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U.S.-China Carbon Consortium

Flux tower in Yunxiao, China
Flux tower in Yunxiao, China

The United States and China are the top CO2 emitters. Understanding the carbon sequestration potentials of ecosystems is important to develop climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. Under the leadership of the US Forest Service, the U.S.-China Carbon Consortium (USCCC) was established as a collaborative effort between American and Chinese institutions who are interested in studying the role of managed ecosystems in global carbon and water cycles. The overall goal is to develop a network of study sites so that data and results can be shared and synthesized at broad spatial scales in order to assess the importance of human influences on carbon and water fluxes in a changing climate. Flux towers directly and continuously measure the net ecosystem exchange of carbon dioxide and water, and researchers use an integrated ecosystem approach to explore the underlying mechanisms controlling the fluxes of dominant ecosystems in the U.S. and China. The central hypothesis is that human disturbances increase variability of carbon sequestration and the water cycle of a landscape through time and space primarily by influencing landscape structure (i.e., composition) that directly affects the underlying mechanisms. Further, researchers hypothesize that human disturbance regimes in the U.S. and China are significantly different, suggesting that predictive models predicting carbon and water are different. Cross-continent synthesis studies improve global estimate of ecosystem carbon sequestration capacity. A series of data synthesis papers across all USCCC sites have been published. Researchers found that reforestations with fast growing trees provided opportunities to sequestering atmospheric CO2 and other ecosystem services, but water consumption by large scale plantation forests could be a concern in water shortage regions. An integrated approach is needed to address watershed restoration and global change issues under various natural and socioeconomically conditions.

PARTNERS: Members of the U.S.-China Carbon Consortium including the USFS, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and multiple Universities in China and the U.S.