Articles | Volume 12, issue 13
Research article
09 Jul 2015
Research article |  | 09 Jul 2015

Global spatiotemporal distribution of soil respiration modeled using a global database

S. Hashimoto, N. Carvalhais, A. Ito, M. Migliavacca, K. Nishina, and M. Reichstein

Abstract. The flux of carbon dioxide from the soil to the atmosphere (soil respiration) is one of the major fluxes in the global carbon cycle. At present, the accumulated field observation data cover a wide range of geographical locations and climate conditions. However, there are still large uncertainties in the magnitude and spatiotemporal variation of global soil respiration. Using a global soil respiration data set, we developed a climate-driven model of soil respiration by modifying and updating Raich's model, and the global spatiotemporal distribution of soil respiration was examined using this model. The model was applied at a spatial resolution of 0.5°and a monthly time step. Soil respiration was divided into the heterotrophic and autotrophic components of respiration using an empirical model. The estimated mean annual global soil respiration was 91 Pg C yr−1 (between 1965 and 2012; Monte Carlo 95 % confidence interval: 87–95 Pg C yr−1) and increased at the rate of 0.09 Pg C yr−2. The contribution of soil respiration from boreal regions to the total increase in global soil respiration was on the same order of magnitude as that of tropical and temperate regions, despite a lower absolute magnitude of soil respiration in boreal regions. The estimated annual global heterotrophic respiration and global autotrophic respiration were 51 and 40 Pg C yr−1, respectively. The global soil respiration responded to the increase in air temperature at the rate of 3.3 Pg C yr−1 °C−1, and Q10 = 1.4. Our study scaled up observed soil respiration values from field measurements to estimate global soil respiration and provide a data-oriented estimate of global soil respiration. The estimates are based on a semi-empirical model parameterized with over one thousand data points. Our analysis indicates that the climate controls on soil respiration may translate into an increasing trend in global soil respiration and our analysis emphasizes the relevance of the soil carbon flux from soil to the atmosphere in response to climate change. Further approaches should additionally focus on climate controls in soil respiration in combination with changes in vegetation dynamics and soil carbon stocks, along with their effects on the long temporal dynamics of soil respiration. We expect that these spatiotemporal estimates will provide a benchmark for future studies and also help to constrain process-oriented models.

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