Global change manipulative experiments are developing rapidly in China

In 2005, INTERFACE (An Integrated Network for Terrestrial Ecosystem Research on Feedbacks to the Atmosphere and ClimatE) created and released a global distribution map of GCMEs (Fig. 1). The map showed a clear message that compared with the United States and Europe, China is relatively backward in global change research using the methodology of manipulative experiments. However, GCMEs are developing rapidly in China since 2005 (Figs. 2 and 3).

Figure 1. The map of GCMEs created in 2005. The global map was downloaded from the website of INTERFACE. Provided by Hebei University

Our paper, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, provides an incredible and monster dataset for global change research and underscores an urgent need to explore the interactions among multiple global change drivers in underrepresented regions such as semi-arid ecosystems, forests in the tropics and subtropics, and arctic tundra when forecasting future terrestrial carbon-climate feedback.

Figure 2. Global distribution of manipulative experiments. The global distribution of single factor and multifactor manipulative experiments (1973-2016, a). The number of papers published from GCMEs in China (1973-2018, b). W: warming, P: changing precipitation regimes, eCO2: elevated CO2, eN: enriched atmospheric N deposition, treatments in multifactor experiments are shown with multiple letters. Provided by Hebei University


This article had a large team of 59 authors from 39 affiliations in 9 countries (China, France, USA, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland) and was a panoramic display for what have we done using GCMEs, what have we learned from GCMEs, and where should GCMEs go in the future. We believe that this article will be one of the milestones on the development road of GCMEs to promote the rapid progress of GCMEs.

Figure 3. GCMEs in Duolun County, Inner Mongolia constructed by Dr. Shiqiang Wan’s lab. Left panel: A four-factor (CO2 enrichment, night-time warming, increased precipitation, and nitrogen addition) experiment constructed in May 2011 (Song et al. 2019, Ecology Letters 22:458-468). Right panel: A precipitation (P) gradients (-60%P, -45%P, -30%P, -15%P, control, +15%P, +30%P, +45%P, +60%P) plus nitrogen addition experiment constructed in May 2019. Photo credit: Shiqiang Wan, Jian Song, and Haidao Wang. Provided by Hebei University