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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 28 No. 5, p. 1580-1584
    Received: Nov 4, 1998

    * Corresponding author(s): j.h.vanginkel@ab.dlo.nl
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Lolium perenne Grasslands May Function as a Sink for Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

  1. J. H. van Ginkel *,
  2. A. P. Whitmore and
  3. A. Gorissen
  1. DLO-Research Inst. for Agrobiology and Soil Fertility (AB-DLO), Dep. of Soil Ecology, P.O. Box 14, 6700 AA Wageningen, the Netherlands.



Model calculations and scenario studies suggest the existence of a considerable positive feedback between temperature and CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Rising temperatures are supposed to increase decomposition of soil organic C leading to increased production of CO2 and this extra CO2 induces a positive feedback by raising the temperature still further. Evidence was found that negative feedback mechanisms also exist: more primary production is allocated to roots as atmospheric CO2 rises and these roots decompose more slowly than roots grown at ambient CO2 levels. Experimental data partly obtained with 14C-techniques were applied in a grassland C model. The model results show that at an atmospheric CO2 concentration of 700 µL L−1 increased belowground C storage will be more than sufficient to balance the increased decomposition of soil organic C in a ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) grassland soil. Once a doubling of the present atmospheric CO2 concentration has been reached, C equivalent to 55% of the annual CO2 increase above 1 ha ryegrass can be withdrawn from the atmosphere. This indicates that grassland soils represent a significant sink for rising atmospheric CO2.

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