Terrestrial ecosystems, in which carbon is retained in live biomass, play an important role in the global carbon cycling. Among these ecological systems, vegetation and soils in deserts and semi deserts control significant proportions in the total carbon stocks on the land surface and the carbon fluxes between the land surface and the atmosphere (IPCC special report: Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry, June 2000). Therefore, accurate assessment of the carbon stocks and fluxes of the desert and semi desert areas at regional scales is required in global carbon cycle studies. In addition,
vegetative ecosystem in semi-arid and arid land is strongly dependent on the water resources. Monitoring the hydrologic processes of the land is thus also required. This work explores the methodology for the sequential continuous estimation of the carbon stocks, CO2 flux, evapotranspiration, and sensible heat fluxes over desert and semidesert area using data from the Jornada desert in New Mexico, USA. A CO2 and energy flux coupled model is used to estimate CO2, water vapor and sensible heat fluxes over the desert area. The model is driven by the observed meteorological data. Its input land surface parameters are derived from satellite images. Simulated energy fluxes are validated for specific sites with eddy covariance observations. Based on
the output of spatially distributed CO2 fluxes, carbon accumulations over the desert area during a period of time is
calculated and the contribution of the desert ecosystem to the atmospheric carbon pool is discussed.