Vegetation Carbon Sequestration under Climate Change in India

Projected decline in the strength of vegetation carbon sequestration under climate change in India

Published in Science of the Total Environment
Authors: Vijaykumar Bejagam, Ashutosh Sharma, Xiaohua Wei


  • Temporal changes in CO2 Fertilization Effect (CFE) on Net Primary Productivity (NPP) are assessed.
  • CFE is projected to decline across the different vegetation covers over India.
  • A significant reduction in the strength of vegetation carbon sequestration is observed.


Tropical vegetation plays a critical role in terrestrial carbon budget and supply many ecological functions such as carbon sequestration. In recent decades, India has witnessed an increase in net primary productivity (NPP), an important measure of carbon sequestration. However, uncertainties persist regarding the sustainability of these land carbon sinks in the face of climate change. The enhanced NPP is driven by the strong CO2 fertilization effect (CFE), but the temporal patterns of this feedback remain unclear. Using the carbon flux data from the Earth System Models (ESMs), an increasing trend in NPP was observed, with projections of NPP to 2.00 ± 0.12 PgCyr-1 (25 % increase) during 2021-2049, 2.36 ± 0.12 PgCyr-1 (18 % increase) during 2050-2079, and 2.67 ± 0.07 PgCyr-1 (13 % increase) during 2080-2099 in Indian vegetation under SSP585 scenario. This suggests a significant decline in the NPP growth rate. To understand the feedback mechanisms driving NPP, the relative effects of CFE and warming were analyzed. Comparing simulations from the biogeochemically coupled model (BGC) with the fully coupled model, the BGC model projected a 74.7 % increase in NPP, significantly higher than the 55.9 % increase projected by the fully coupled model by the end of the century. This indicates that the consistent increase in NPP was associated with CO2 fertilization. More importantly, results reveal that the decrease in the NPP growth rate was due to the declining contribution of CFE at a rate of -0.62 % per 100 ppm CO2 increase. This decline could be attributed to factors such as nutrient limitations and high temperatures. Additionally, significant shifts in the strength of carbon sinks in offsetting the CO2 emissions were identified, decreasing at a rate of -1.15 % per decade. This decline in the strength of vegetation carbon sequestration may increase the societal dependence on mitigation measures to address climate change.

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