作者：Wan, S., J. Xia, W. Liu, and S. Niu
A mechanistic understanding of the carbon (C) cycle–climate change feedback is essential for projecting future states of climate and ecosystems. Here we report a novel field mechanism and evidence supporting the hypothesis that nocturnal warming in a temperate steppe ecosystem in northern China can result in a minor C sink instead of a C source as models have predicted. Nocturnal warming increased leaf respiration of two dominant grass species by 36.3%, enhanced consumption of carbohydrates in the leaves (72.2% and 60.5% for sugar and starch, respectively), and consequently stimulated plant photosynthesis by 19.8% in the subsequent days. Our experimental findings confirm previous observations of nocturnal warming stimulating plant photosynthesis through increased draw-down of leaf carbohydrates at night. The enhancement of plant photosynthesis overcompensated the increased C loss via plant respiration under nocturnal warming and shifted the steppe ecosystem from a minor C source (1.87 g C m-2 yr-1 ) to a C sink (21.72 g C m-2 yr-1 ) across the three growing seasons from 2006 to 2008. Given greater increases in daily minimum than maximum temperature in many regions, plant photosynthetic overcompensation may partially serve as a negative feedback mechanism for terrestrial biosphere to climate warming.