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Global atmospheric carbon budget: results from an ensemble of atmospheric CO2 inversions

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Atmospheric CO[subscript 2] inversions estimate surface carbon fluxes from an optimal fit to atmospheric CO[subscript 2] measurements, usually including prior constraints on the flux estimates. Eleven sets of carbon flux

Atmospheric CO[subscript 2] inversions estimate surface carbon fluxes from an optimal fit to atmospheric CO[subscript 2] measurements, usually including prior constraints on the flux estimates. Eleven sets of carbon flux estimates are compared, generated by different inversions systems that vary in their inversions methods, choice of atmospheric data, transport model and prior information. The inversions were run for at least 5 yr in the period between 1990 and 2010. Mean fluxes for 2001–2004, seasonal cycles, interannual variability and trends are compared for the tropics and northern and southern extra-tropics, and separately for land and ocean. Some continental/basin-scale subdivisions are also considered where the atmospheric network is denser. Four-year mean fluxes are reasonably consistent across inversions at global/latitudinal scale, with a large total (land plus ocean) carbon uptake in the north (−3.4 Pg C yr[superscript −1] (±0.5 Pg C yr[superscript −1] standard deviation), with slightly more uptake over land than over ocean), a significant although more variable source over the tropics (1.6 ± 0.9 Pg C yr[superscript −1]) and a compensatory sink of similar magnitude in the south (−1.4 ± 0.5 Pg C yr[superscript −1]) corresponding mainly to an ocean sink. Largest differences across inversions occur in the balance between tropical land sources and southern land sinks. Interannual variability (IAV) in carbon fluxes is larger for land than ocean regions (standard deviation around 1.06 versus 0.33 Pg C yr[superscript −1] for the 1996–2007 period), with much higher consistency among the inversions for the land. While the tropical land explains most of the IAV (standard deviation ~ 0.65 Pg C yr[superscript −1]), the northern and southern land also contribute (standard deviation ~ 0.39 Pg C yr[superscript −1]). Most inversions tend to indicate an increase of the northern land carbon uptake from late 1990s to 2008 (around 0.1 Pg C yr[superscript −1], predominantly in North Asia. The mean seasonal cycle appears to be well constrained by the atmospheric data over the northern land (at the continental scale), but still highly dependent on the prior flux seasonality over the ocean. Finally we provide recommendations to interpret the regional fluxes, along with the uncertainty estimates.

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Date Created
  • 2013-10-24

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Sensitivity of simulated CO2 concentration to regridding of global fossil fuel CO2 emissions

Description

Errors in the specification or utilization of fossil fuel CO[subscript 2] emissions within carbon budget or atmospheric CO[subscript 2] inverse studies can alias the estimation of biospheric and oceanic carbon

Errors in the specification or utilization of fossil fuel CO[subscript 2] emissions within carbon budget or atmospheric CO[subscript 2] inverse studies can alias the estimation of biospheric and oceanic carbon exchange. A key component in the simulation of CO[subscript 2] concentrations arising from fossil fuel emissions is the spatial distribution of the emission near coastlines. Regridding of fossil fuel CO[subscript 2] emissions (FFCO[subscript 2]) from fine to coarse grids to enable atmospheric transport simulations can give rise to mismatches between the emissions and simulated atmospheric dynamics which differ over land or water. For example, emissions originally emanating from the land are emitted from a grid cell for which the vertical mixing reflects the roughness and/or surface energy exchange of an ocean surface. We test this potential "dynamical inconsistency" by examining simulated global atmospheric CO[subscript 2] concentration driven by two different approaches to regridding fossil fuel CO[subscript 2] emissions. The two approaches are as follows: (1) a commonly used method that allocates emissions to grid cells with no attempt to ensure dynamical consistency with atmospheric transport and (2) an improved method that reallocates emissions to grid cells to ensure dynamically consistent results. Results show large spatial and temporal differences in the simulated CO[subscript 2] concentration when comparing these two approaches. The emissions difference ranges from −30.3 TgC grid cell[superscript −1] yr[superscript −1] (−3.39 kgC m[superscript −2] yr[superscript −1]) to +30.0 TgC grid cell[superscript −1] yr[superscript −1] (+2.6 kgC m[superscript −2] yr[superscript −1]) along coastal margins. Maximum simulated annual mean CO[subscript 2] concentration differences at the surface exceed ±6 ppm at various locations and times. Examination of the current CO[subscript 2] monitoring locations during the local afternoon, consistent with inversion modeling system sampling and measurement protocols, finds maximum hourly differences at 38 stations exceed ±0.10 ppm with individual station differences exceeding −32 ppm. The differences implied by not accounting for this dynamical consistency problem are largest at monitoring sites proximal to large coastal urban areas and point sources. These results suggest that studies comparing simulated to observed atmospheric CO[subscript 2] concentration, such as atmospheric CO[subscript 2] inversions, must take measures to correct for this potential problem and ensure flux and dynamical consistency.

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Date Created
  • 2013-11-30