Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2004, Vol. 59 ›› Issue (4): 497-504.doi: 10.11821/xb200404002

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The Soil Organic Carbon Storage and Its Spatial Distribution of Alpine Grassland in the Source Region of the Yellow River

ZENG Yongnian1,2, FENG Zhaodong2, CAO Guangchao3, XUE Liang4   

  1. 1. School of Info-Physics and Geomatics Engineering, Central South University, Changsha 410083, China;
    2. National Laboratory of Western China's Environmental System, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China;
    3. Center for Resources and Environment Research of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Qinghai Normal University, Xining 810008, China;
    4. College of Tourism and Environmental Sciences, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an 710069, China
  • Received:2004-01-09 Revised:2004-06-01 Online:2004-07-25 Published:2010-09-09
  • Supported by:

    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40071066; Key Teacher Program of Ministry of Education of China


The alpine grassland in the Tibetan Plateau plays an important role in global carbon cycle and carbon balance. However, regional carbon cycle in the alpine grassland ecosystem is still not clear. In this study we selected Golog prefecture in the headwater of the Yellow River valley as a study area, which is loCated on the southeast of the Tibetan Plateau. Using field-obtained physical and chemical data from more than 50 typical soil profiles, the organic soil carbon storage in the study area is estimated. The results show that soil organic carbon sinks primarily include alpine meadow and alpine steppe soils. The mean soil organic carbon per unit area is 29.97 kg/m2. The total soil organic carbon storage is about 15×108tC. The spatial distribution of soil organic carbon is characterized by its density and storage increase from northwestern to southeastern part of the study area. The very cold environment results in the higher value of soil organic carbon density in the study area.

Key words: alpine grassland, soil organic carbon storage, spatial distribution, Yellow River valley