Enhanced seasonal exchange of CO2 by northern ecosystems since 1960

Graven, HD, Keeling RF, Piper SC, Patra PK, Stephens BB, Wofsy SC, Welp LR, Sweeney C, Tans PP, Kelley JJ, Daube BC, Kort EA, Santoni GW, Bent JD.  2013.  Enhanced seasonal exchange of CO2 by northern ecosystems since 1960. Science. 341:1085-1089.

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alaska, amplitude increase, atmospheric carbon-dioxide, climate, disturbance, forests, mauna-loa, plant-growth, trends, vegetation


Seasonal variations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Northern Hemisphere have increased since the 1950s, but sparse observations have prevented a clear assessment of the patterns of long-term change and the underlying mechanisms. We compare recent aircraft-based observations of CO2 above the North Pacific and Arctic Oceans to earlier data from 1958 to 1961 and find that the seasonal amplitude at altitudes of 3 to 6 km increased by 50% for 45 degrees to 90 degrees N but by less than 25% for 10 degrees to 45 degrees N. An increase of 30 to 60% in the seasonal exchange of CO2 by northern extratropical land ecosystems, focused on boreal forests, is implicated, substantially more than simulated by current land ecosystem models. The observations appear to signal large ecological changes in northern forests and a major shift in the global carbon cycle.