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Nevison, CD, Mahowald NM, Weiss RF, Prinn RG.  2007.  Interannual and seasonal variability in atmospheric N2O. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 21   10.1029/2006gb002755   AbstractWebsite

The increase in atmospheric N2O observed over the last century reflects large- scale human perturbations to the global nitrogen cycle. High- precision measurements of atmospheric N2O over the last decade reveal subtle signals of interannual variability (IAV) superimposed upon the more prominent growth trend. Anthropogenic sources drive the underlying growth in N2O, but are probably too monotonic to explain most of the observed IAV. The causes of both seasonal and interannual variability in atmospheric N2O are explored on the basis of comparisons of a 1993 - 2004 atmospheric transport simulation to observations of N2O at five stations of the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE). The complementary tracers chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) 11 and 12 and SF6 also are examined. The model simulation does not include a stratospheric sink and thus isolates the effects of surface sources and tropospheric transport. Both model and observations yield correlations in seasonal and interannual variability among species, but only in a few cases are model and observed variability correlated to each other. The results suggest that tropospheric transport contributes substantially to observed variability, especially at Samoa station. However, some features of observed variability are not explained by the model simulation and appear more consistent with a stratospheric influence. At Mace Head, Ireland, N2O and CFC growth rate anomalies are weakly correlated to IAV in polar winter lower stratospheric temperature, a proxy for the strength of the mean meridional stratospheric circulation. Seasonal and interannual variability in the natural sources of N2O may also contribute to observed variability in atmospheric N2O.

Nevison, CD, Kinnison DE, Weiss RF.  2004.  Stratospheric influences on the tropospheric seasonal cycles of nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons. Geophysical Research Letters. 31   10.1029/2004gl020398   AbstractWebsite

The stratospheric influence on the tropospheric seasonal cycles of N2O, CFC-11 ( CCl3F), CFC-12 (CCl2F2) and CFC-113 (CCl2FCClF2) is investigated using observations from the AGAGE global trace gas monitoring network and the results of the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM). WACCM provides the basis for a number of predictions about the relative amplitudes of N2O and CFC seasonal cycles and about the relative magnitude and phasing of seasonal cycles in the northern and southern hemispheres. These predictions are generally consistent with observations, suggesting that the stratosphere exerts a coherent influence on the tropospheric seasonal cycles of trace gases whose primary sinks are in the stratosphere. This stratospheric influence may complicate efforts to validate estimated source distributions of N2O, an important greenhouse gas, in atmospheric transport model studies.

Nevison, CD, Dlugokencky E, Dutton G, Elkins JW, Fraser P, Hall B, Krummel PB, Langenfelds RL, O'Doherty S, Prinn RG, Steele LP, Weiss RF.  2011.  Exploring causes of interannual variability in the seasonal cycles of tropospheric nitrous oxide. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 11:3713-3730.   10.5194/acp-11-3713-2011   AbstractWebsite

Seasonal cycles in the mixing ratios of tropospheric nitrous oxide (N(2)O) are derived by detrending long-term measurements made at sites across four global surface monitoring networks. The detrended monthly data display large interannual variability, which at some sites challenges the concept of a "mean" seasonal cycle. In the Northern Hemisphere, correlations between polar winter lower stratospheric temperature and detrended N(2)O data, around the month of the seasonal minimum, provide empirical evidence for a stratospheric influence, which varies in strength from year to year and can explain much of the interannual variability in the surface seasonal cycle. Even at sites where a strong, competing, regional N(2)O source exists, such as from coastal upwelling at Trinidad Head, California, the stratospheric influence must be understood to interpret the biogeochemical signal in monthly mean data. In the Southern Hemisphere, detrended surface N(2)O monthly means are correlated with polar spring lower stratospheric temperature in months preceding the N(2)O minimum, providing empirical evidence for a coherent stratospheric influence in that hemisphere as well, in contrast to some recent atmospheric chemical transport model (ACTM) results. Correlations between the phasing of the surface N(2)O seasonal cycle in both hemispheres and both polar lower stratospheric temperature and polar vortex break-up date provide additional support for a stratospheric influence. The correlations discussed above are generally more evident in high-frequency in situ data than in data from weekly flask samples. Furthermore, the interannual variability in the N(2)O seasonal cycle is not always correlated among in situ and flask networks that share common sites, nor do the mean seasonal amplitudes always agree. The importance of abiotic influences such as the stratospheric influx and tropospheric transport on N(2)O seasonal cycles suggests that, at sites remote from local sources, surface N(2)O mixing ratio data by themselves are unlikely to provide information about seasonality in surface sources, e. g., for atmospheric inversions, unless the ACTMs employed in the inversions accurately account for these influences. An additional abioitc influence is the seasonal ingassing and outgassing of cooling and warming surface waters, which creates a thermal signal in tropospheric N(2)O that is of particular importance in the extratropical Southern Hemisphere, where it competes with the biological ocean source signal.

Nevison, CD, Lueker TJ, Weiss RF.  2004.  Quantifying the nitrous oxide source from coastal upwelling. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 18   10.1029/2003gb002110   AbstractWebsite

A continuous record of atmospheric N2O measured from a tower in northern California captures strong pulses of N2O released by coastal upwelling events. The atmospheric record offers a unique, observation-based method for quantifying the coastal N2O source. A coastal upwelling model is developed and compared to the constraints imposed by the atmospheric record in the Pacific Northwest coastal region. The upwelling model is based on Ekman theory and driven by high-resolution wind and SST data and by relationships between subsurface N2O and temperature. A simplified version of the upwelling model is extended to the world's major eastern boundary regions to estimate a total coastal upwelling source of similar to0.2 +/- >70% Tg N2O-N/yr. This flux represents similar to5% of the total ocean source, estimated here at similar to4 Tg N2O-N/yr using traditional gas-transfer methods, and is probably largely neglected in current N2O budgets.

Nevison, CD, Keeling RF, Weiss RF, Popp BN, Jin X, Fraser PJ, Porter LW, Hess PG.  2005.  Southern Ocean ventilation inferred from seasonal cycles of atmospheric N2O and O2/N2 at Cape Grim, Tasmania. Tellus Series B-Chemical and Physical Meteorology. 57:218-229.   10.1111/j.1600-0889.2005.00143.x   AbstractWebsite

The seasonal cycle of atmospheric N(2)O is derived from a 10-yr observational record at Cape Grim, Tasmania (41 degrees S, 145 degrees E). After correcting for thermal and stratospheric influences, the observed atmospheric seasonal cycle is consistent with the seasonal outgassing of microbially produced N(2)O from the Southern Ocean, as predicted by an ocean biogeochemistry model coupled to an atmospheric transport model (ATM). The model-observation comparison suggests a Southern Ocean N(2)O source of similar to 0.9 Tg N yr(-1) and is the first study to reproduce observed atmospheric seasonal cycles in N(2)O using specified surface sources in forward ATM runs. However, these results are sensitive to the thermal and stratospheric corrections applied to the atmospheric N(2)O data. The correlation in subsurface waters between apparent oxygen utilization (AOU) and N(2)O production (approximated as the concentration in excess of atmospheric equilibrium Delta N(2)O) is exploited to infer the atmospheric seasonal cycle in O(2)/N(2) due to ventilation of O(2)-depleted subsurface waters. Subtracting this cycle from the observed, thermally corrected seasonal cycle in atmospheric O(2)/N(2) allows the residual O(2)/N(2) signal from surface net community production to be inferred. Because N(2)O is only produced in subsurface ocean waters, where it is correlated to O(2) consumption, atmospheric N(2)O observations provide a methodology for distinguishing the surface production and subsurface ventilation signals in atmospheric O(2)/N(2), which have previously been inseparable.

Nevison, CD, Weiss RF, Erickson DJ.  1995.  Global oceanic emissions of nitrous oxide. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 100:15809-15820.   10.1029/95jc00684   AbstractWebsite

The global N2O flux from the ocean to the atmosphere is calculated based on more than 60,000 expedition measurements of the N2O anomaly in surface water. The expedition data are extrapolated globally and coupled to daily air-sea gas transfer coefficients modeled at 2.8 degrees x 2.8 degrees resolution to estimate a global ocean source of about 4 (1.2-6.8) Tg N yr(-1). The wide range of uncertainty in the source estimate arises mainly from uncertainties in the air-sea gas transfer coefficients and in the global extrapolation of the summertime-biased surface N2O data set. The strongest source is predicted from the 40-60 degrees S latitude band. Strong emissions also are predicted from the northern Pacific Ocean, the equatorial upwelling zone, and coastal upwelling zones occurring predominantly in the tropical northern hemisphere. High apparent oxygen utilization (AOU) at 100 m below the mixed layer is found to be correlated positively both to N2O production at depth and to the surface N2O anomaly. On the basis of these correlations, the expedition data are partitioned into two subsets associated with high and low AOU at depth. The zonally averaged monthly means in each subset are extrapolated to produce two latitude-by-month matrices in which monthly surface N2O is expressed as the deviation from the annual mean. Both matrices contain large uncertainties. The low-AOU matrix, which mainly includes surface N2O data from the North Atlantic and the subtropical gyres, suggests many regions with positive summer deviations and negative winter deviations, consistent with a seasonal cycle predominantly driven by seasonal heating and cooling of the surface ocean. The high-AOU subset, which includes the regions most important to the global N2O ocean source, suggests some regions with positive winter deviations and negative summer deviations, consistent with a seasonal cycle predominantly driven by wintertime mixing of surface water with N2O-rich deep water. Coupled seasonal changes in gas transfer coefficients and surface N2O in these important source regions could strongly influence the global ocean source.

Nisbet, E, Weiss R.  2010.  Top-down versus bottom-up. Science. 328:1241-1243.   10.1126/science.1189936   AbstractWebsite

Greenhouse gas emissions are currently quantified from statistical data without testing the results against the actual increases of these gases in the atmosphere. This is like dieting without weighing oneself. Data are produced by greenhouse gas emitters of all sizes, from factory or farm to nation, and are quoted to high precision—yet misreporting occurs, whether by simple error, ignorance, or intention. But now scientists on both sides of the Atlantic are arguing that regulation of greenhouse gas emissions can have integrity only if verified by direct atmospheric measurements.