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SCIENCE CHINA Earth Sciences, Volume 62, Issue 2: 423-437(2019) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11430-017-9221-7

Carbon emissions induced by farmland expansion in China during the past 300 years

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  • ReceivedOct 16, 2017
  • AcceptedMay 18, 2018
  • PublishedNov 19, 2018

Abstract

Scientific assessment of the accounting over carbon in the terrestrial ecosystem in the process land use/land cover changes caused by human activities will help reduce the uncertainty in estimating carbon emissions from the terrestrial ecosystem. This study employs a bookkeeping model to estimate the carbon emissions from farmland reclamation in China during the past 300 years based on the annual rate of land use changes (derived from historical natural vegetation, farmland data), preset carbon density and coefficients of disturbance curves. We find out that: (1) there was a net increase of 79.30×104 km2 in national farmland; about 65% of reclaimed farmland had been forest land and 26% of that had been grass land previously; (2) the total amount of carbon emissions from farmland expansion in China had been between 2.94 and 5.61 Pg with the median 3.78 Pg during the past 300 years; specifically, carbon emissions of vegetation were 1.58 Pg while those of soil ranged from 1.35 Pg to 4.03 Pg with the median 2.20 Pg; (3) carbon emissions vary greatly across various ecosystems: the emissions were most from forest land, and then grass land and swamps, and the least from shrubs; deserts functioned more likely to be carbon stock in the process of land reclamation; (4) along the time line, carbon emissions had decreased first and then increased while the peak emissions occurred in the first half of 20th century; and spatially, carbon emissions were most released in Northeast and Southwest China; Northwest China was of the minimum carbon emissions.


Funded by

the National Natural Science Foundation of China(Grant,No.,41671082)


Acknowledgment

The authors thank the anonymous reviewers, Prof. Dai Junhu, Prof. He Fanneng, Dr. Li Beibei and Dr. Bai Qing for helping me to finish this thesis perfectly. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41671082).


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  • Figure 1

    Study area.

  • Figure 2

    Modern natural vegetation (a) and historical natural vegetation (b) in China.

  • Figure 3

    National farmland area changes in the past 300 years in China.

  • Figure 4

    The accumulating area changes of different land use type reclaimed.

  • Figure 5

    Carbon emissions from farmland reclamation in the past 300 years.

  • Figure 6

    Annual carbon emissions from farmland reclamation in the past 300 years.

  • Figure 7

    Carbon emissions from vegetation and soil in the past 300 years.

  • Figure 8

    Annual change of provincial carbon emissions.

  • Table 1   Table 1 Soil carbon density changes induced by reclaiming historical natural vegetationa)

    Historical natural vegetation type

    Low scenario (%)

    Medium scenario (%)

    High scenario (%)

    Forest Land

    −20

    −35

    −50

    Shrubs

    −20

    −35

    −50

    Desert

    +7.74

    +7.74

    +7.74

    Grassland

    −20

    −30

    −40

    Swamp

    −77

    −82

    −87

    −, indicates the loss in soil carbon density while + indicates the increase in soil carbon density

  • Table 2   Table 2 Carbon emissions from vegetation and soil (Pg)

    Scenario

    Vegetation

    Soil

    Forest

    Shrubs

    Deserts

    Grassland

    Swamps

    Forest

    Shrub

    Deserts

    Grassland

    Swamps

    Low

    1.5142

    0.0013

    0.0018

    0.0517

    0.0123

    0.5380

    0.0021

    −0.0478

    0.3750

    0.4879

    Moderate

    1.2714

    0.0027

    −0.0478

    0.4854

    0.4879

    High

    2.7506

    0.0052

    −0.0478

    0.8309

    0.4879

  • Table 3   Table 3 Provincial carbon emissions from vegetation and soil in the past 300 years (Pg)

    Province

    Vegetation

    Soil

    Province

    Vegetation

    Soil

    Low

    Moderate

    High

    Low

    Moderate

    High

    Anhui

    0.0376

    −0.0030

    0.0145

    0.0414

    Henan

    0.0632

    0.0343

    0.0555

    0.1262

    Chuan-Yu

    0.2819

    0.1058

    0.2349

    0.5051

    Heilongjiang

    0.2395

    0.6639

    0.8210

    1.2480

    Fujian

    0.0114

    −0.0031

    0.0047

    0.0169

    Jilin

    0.1215

    0.1386

    0.2327

    0.4326

    Guangxi

    0.0721

    0.0048

    0.0424

    0.0956

    Jing-Jin-Ji

    0.0211

    0.0438

    0.0675

    0.1204

    Guizhou

    0.1464

    0.0267

    0.0859

    0.1817

    Liaoning

    0.0910

    0.0607

    0.1154

    0.2293

    Hubei

    0.0518

    −0.0013

    0.0211

    0.0592

    Inner Mongolia

    0.0411

    0.1250

    0.1658

    0.2437

    Henan

    0.0725

    0.0047

    0.0346

    0.0854

    Qinghai

    0.0042

    0.0085

    0.0113

    0.0176

    Hu-Ning

    0.0021

    −0.0060

    −0.0001

    0.0108

    Shandong

    0.0210

    0.0366

    0.0506

    0.0937

    Jiangxi

    0.0145

    −0.0015

    0.0074

    0.0187

    Shanxi

    0.0120

    0.0173

    0.0228

    0.0438

    Yue-Qiong

    0.0503

    0.0071

    0.0272

    0.0644

    Shaanxi

    0.0247

    0.0220

    0.0238

    0.0535

    Yunnan

    0.1385

    0.0401

    0.0960

    0.1904

    Tibet

    0.0024

    0.0036

    0.0053

    0.0089

    Zhejiang

    0.0046

    −0.0033

    0.0018

    0.0067

    Xinjiang

    0.0099

    −0.0074

    −0.0020

    0.0082

    Gan-Ning

    0.046

    0.0373

    0.0596

    0.1245

    Total

    1.5813

    1.3552

    2.1997

    4.0267

  • Table 4   Table 4 Estimates of carbon emissions sourced to land uses in China during past 300 years

    Houghton and Hackler (2003)

    Ge et al. (2008)

    This study

    Late-Stage Scenario

    33.4 Pg

    Vegetation

    3.70 Pg

    Vegetation

    1.58 Pg

    Reference Scenario

    31.9 Pg

    Soil

    High

    5.84 Pg

    Soil

    High

    4.03 Pg

    Soil Scenario

    26.8 Pg

    Moderate

    2.48 Pg

    Moderate

    2.20 Pg

    Early-stage Scenario

    17.1 Pg

    Low

    0.80 Pg

    Low

    1.36 Pg

  • Table 5   Table 5 Comparison over the carbon emissions sourced to land reclamation in Northeast China (Pg)

    Li (2012)

    This study

    Scenario

    Total

    Vegetation

    Soil

    Scenario

    Total

    Vegetation

    Soil

    High

    2.59

    0.65

    1.94

    High

    2.36

    0.45

    1.91

    Moderate

    1.45

    0.45

    1.00

    Moderate

    1.62

    1.17

    Low

    1.06

    0.24

    0.82

    Low

    1.32

    0.86

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