Grasslands

By: , and 
Edited by: Nancy CavallaroGyami ShresthaRichard BirdseyMelanie A. MayesRaymond G. NajjarSasha C. ReedPatricia Romero-Lankao, and Zhiliang Zhu

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Abstract

Key findings:

  1. Total grassland carbon stocks in the conterminous United States, estimated to be about 7.4 petagrams of carbon (Pg C) in 2005, are projected to increase to about 8.2 Pg C by 2050. Although U.S. grasslands are expected to remain carbon sinks over this period, the uptake rate is projected to decline by about half. In the U.S. Great Plains, land-use and land-cover changes are expected to cause much of the change in carbon cycling as grasslands are converted to agricultural lands or to woody biomes (medium confidence).
  2. Increasing temperatures and rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations interact to increase productivity in northern North American grasslands, but this productivity response will be mediated by variable precipitation, soil moisture, and nutrient availability (high confidence, very likely).
  3. Soil carbon in grasslands is likely to be moderately responsive to changes in climate over the next several decades. Field experiments in grasslands suggest that altered precipitation can increase soil carbon, while warming and elevated CO2 may have only minimal effects despite altered productivity (medium confidence, likely).
  4. Carbon stocks and net carbon uptake in grasslands can be maintained with appropriate land management including moderate levels of grazing. Fire suppression can lead to encroachment of woody vegetation and increasing carbon storage in mesic regions, at the expense of grassland vegetation (high confidence, likely).

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Title Grasslands
DOI 10.7930/SOCCR2.2018.Ch10
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher U.S. Global Change Research Program
Contributing office(s) Western Geographic Science Center
Description 29 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype Federal Government Series
Larger Work Title Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report (SOCCR2): A Sustained Assessment Report
First page 399
Last page 427