Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2006, Vol. 61 ›› Issue (7): 720-728.doi: 10.11821/xb200607006

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Soil Organic Carbon Storage and Vertical Distribution of Alpine Meadow on the Tibetan Plateau

TAO Zhen1,2, SHEN Chengde2, GAO Quanzhou1, SUN Yanmin2, YI Weixi2, LI Yingnian3   

  1. 1. School of Geography and Planning, Zhongshan University, Guangzhou 510275, China;
    2. Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, CAS, Guangzhou 510640, China;
    3. Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, CAS, Xining 810001, China
  • Received:2005-01-12 Revised:2006-05-18 Online:2006-07-25 Published:2006-07-25
  • Supported by:

    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40231015; No.40473002; No.40471120; The '985 Project' of GIS and Remote Sensing for Geosciences from the Ministry of Education of China, No.105203200400006


The alpine meadow ecosystem is one of the important grassland resources for grazing on the Tibetan Plateau. High-resolution sampling, measurement of roots contents and organic carbon contents of selected soil in Haibei Station were made in an attempt to detect the soil organic carbon storage and vertical distribution of the alpine meadow in the northeast Tibetan Plateau. The results show that considerable magnitude roots biomass (23544.60 kg ha-1-27947 kg ha-1) and organic carbon (21.52 GtC) have been stored in soils of the alpine meadow. Some 30% of total soil organic carbon of natural soil profiles has been stored in the upper horizons (upper 10 cm). Comparison suggests that soil organic carbon storage (23.17×104 kg C ha-1) (0-60 cm) is 2-6 folds of that of forest soil, shrub soil and pasture soil in the Tropics. Soil organic carbon pool of the alpine meadow is ignorable in the carbon budget both of the globe and China. With the global warming, it is important to protect flimsy alpine meadow ecosystem on the Tibetan Plateau, not to disturb the soil cover of alpine meadow, and to introduce feasibly deep-rooted plants for storing much more soil organic carbon, for decreasing CO2 emitting from the soils, for slowing down CO2 concentration rising rate of the atmosphere, and for sustainable developing ecotype services of the alpine meadow.

Key words: alpine meadow, soil organic carbon, global change, global carbon budget