Net primary productivity (NPP) of grasslands is a key variable for characterising carbon cycles in grassland ecosystems. The prediction of NPP in Inner Mongolia is important for adaptation to future climate change, food security and sustainable use of the grassland resources. The output from two models, potentially suitable for simulating NPP in response to climate change, was tested against observed aboveground forage mass of dry matter at eight sites in Inner Mongolia from 1995 to 2005. The Classification Indices-Based Model (CIBM) showed an acceptable agreement with field measurements. The impact of climate change on the NPP of grasslands was subsequently analysed by CIBM using future climate projections from a Global Circulation Model based on three greenhouse gas emission scenarios: A2 (medium-high emission), A1B (medium emission) and B2 (medium-low emission) differing in assumptions about patterns of global social and economic development. Generally, significant increases in NPP, compared with the baseline NPP of 3.6 tonnes ha–1 for 1961–90, were predicted. The magnitude of the increase in NPP depended on the emission scenario, as well as on the time frame and region considered. Overall the predicted NPP stimulation increased with the level of emissions assumed, being 4.8 tonnes ha–1 in the A2 scenario, 4.3 tonnes ha–1 in the B2 scenario and 4.5 tonnes ha–1 in the A1B scenario in the 2080s (2071–2100). The increase in NPP in response to climate change differed between regions and there was an interaction with emission scenario. For the A2 and the B2 emission scenarios, the western region of Inner Mongolia was predicted to exhibit the strongest NPP increases, but, under the A1B scenario for the 2050s, the south-eastern region exhibited the greatest increase in NPP. It is concluded that the productivity of grassland in Inner Mongolia is likely to increase in response to climate change but these predicted effects are sensitive to emission scenarios and differ regionally. This will provide opportunities but also challenges for herders and policy makers in adapting to this change.
- below-ground biomass