Skip to main content

Nitrogen and water availability control plant carbon storage with warming

Cite this dataset

Zhou, Guiyao et al. (2022). Nitrogen and water availability control plant carbon storage with warming [Dataset]. Dryad.


Plants may slow global warming through enhanced growth, because increased levels of photosynthesis stimulate the land carbon (C) sink. However, how climate warming affects plant C storage globally and key drivers that determining the response of plant C storage to climate warming remains unclear, causing uncertainty in climate projections. We performed a comprehensive meta-analysis, compiling 393 observations from 99 warming studies to examine the global patterns of plant C storage responses to climate warming and explore the key drivers. Warming significantly increased total biomass (+8.4%), aboveground biomass (+12.6%) and belowground biomass (+10.1%). The effect of experimental warming on plant biomass was best explained by the availability of soil nitrogen (N) and water. Across the entire dataset, warming-induced changes in total, aboveground and belowground biomass all positively correlated with soil C:N ratio, an indicator of soil N availability. In addition, warming stimulated plant biomass more strongly in humid than in dry ecosystems, and warming tended to decrease root:shoot ratios at high soil C:N ratios. Together, these results suggest dual controls of warming effects on plant C storage; warming increases plant growth in ecosystems where N is limiting plant growth, but it reduces plant growth where water availability is limiting plant growth. Together, these findings suggested that warming effects on plant C storage largely depend on soil N and water status, which should be considered into  Earth system models to improve the future prediction of C-climate change feedbacks. 


East China Normal University