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Welp, LR, Keeling RF, Meijer HAJ, Bollenbacher AF, Piper SC, Yoshimura K, Francey RJ, Allison CE, Wahlen M.  2011.  Interannual variability in the oxygen isotopes of atmospheric CO2 driven by El Nino. Nature. 477:579-582.   10.1038/nature10421   AbstractWebsite

The stable isotope ratios of atmospheric CO2 (O-18/O-16 and C-13/C-12) have been monitored since 1977 to improve our understanding of the global carbon cycle, because biosphere-atmosphere exchange fluxes affect the different atomic masses in a measurable way(1). Interpreting the O-18/O-16 variability has proved difficult, however, because oxygen isotopes in CO2 are influenced by both the carbon cycle and the water cycle(2). Previous attention focused on the decreasing O-18/O-16 ratio in the 1990s, observed by the global Cooperative Air Sampling Network of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Earth System Research Laboratory. This decrease was attributed variously to a number of processes including an increase in Northern Hemisphere soil respiration(3); a global increase in C-4 crops at the expense of C-3 forests(4); and environmental conditions, such as atmospheric turbulence(5) and solar radiation(6), that affect CO2 exchange between leaves and the atmosphere. Here we present 30 years' worth of data on O-18/O-16 in CO2 from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography global flask network and show that the interannual variability is strongly related to the El Nino/Southern Oscillation. We suggest that the redistribution of moisture and rainfall in the tropics during an El Nino increases the O-18/O-16 ratio of precipitation and plant water, and that this signal is then passed on to atmospheric CO2 by biosphere-atmosphere gas exchange. We show how the decay time of the El Nino anomaly in this data set can be useful in constraining global gross primary production. Our analysis shows a rapid recovery from El Nino events, implying a shorter cycling time of CO2 with respect to the terrestrial biosphere and oceans than previously estimated. Our analysis suggests that current estimates of global gross primary production, of 120 petagrams of carbon per year(7), may be too low, and that a best guess of 150-175 petagrams of carbon per year better reflects the observed rapid cycling of CO2. Although still tentative, such a revision would present a new benchmark by which to evaluate global biospheric carbon cycling models.

Welp, LR, Keeling RF, Weiss RF, Paplawsky W, Heckman S.  2013.  Design and performance of a Nafion dryer for continuous operation at CO2 and CH4 air monitoring sites. Atmos. Meas. Tech.. 6:1217-1226.: Copernicus Publications   10.5194/amt-6-1217-2013   AbstractWebsite

In preparation for routine deployment in a network of greenhouse gas monitoring stations, we have designed and tested a simple method for drying ambient air to near or below 0.2% (2000 ppm) mole fraction H2O using a Nafion dryer. The inlet system was designed for use with cavity ring-down spectrometer (CRDS) analyzers such as the Picarro model G2301 that measure H2O in addition to their principal analytes, in this case CO2 and CH4. These analyzers report dry-gas mixing ratios without drying the sample by measuring H2O mixing ratio at the same frequency as the main analytes, and then correcting for the dilution and peak broadening effects of H2O on the mixing ratios of the other analytes measured in moist air. However, it is difficult to accurately validate the water vapor correction in the field. By substantially lowering the amount of H2O in the sample, uncertainties in the applied water vapor corrections can be reduced by an order of magnitude or more, thus eliminating the need to determine instrument-specific water vapor correction coefficients and to verify the stability over time. Our Nafion drying inlet system takes advantage of the extra capacity of the analyzer pump to redirect 30% of the dry gas exiting the Nafion to the outer shell side of the dryer and has no consumables. We tested the Nafion dryer against a cryotrap (−97 °C) method for removing H2O and found that in wet-air tests, the Nafion reduces the CO2 dry-gas mixing ratios of the sample gas by as much as 0.1 ± 0.01 ppm due to leakage across the membrane. The effect on CH4 was smaller and varied within ± 0.2 ppb, with an approximate uncertainty of 0.1 ppb. The Nafion-induced CO2 bias is partially offset by sending the dry reference gases through the Nafion dryer as well. The residual bias due to the impact of moisture differences between sample and reference gas on the permeation through the Nafion was approximately −0.05 ppm for CO2 and varied within ± 0.2 ppb for CH4. The uncertainty of this partial drying method is within the WMO compatibility guidelines for the Northern Hemisphere, 0.1 ppm for CO2 and 2 ppb for CH4, and is comparable to experimentally determining water vapor corrections for each instrument but less subject to concerns of possible drift in these corrections.

Welp, LR, Patra PK, Rodenbeck C, Nemani R, Bi J, Piper SC, Keeling RF.  2016.  Increasing summer net CO2 uptake in high northern ecosystems inferred from atmospheric inversions and comparisons to remote-sensing NDVI. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 16:9047-9066.   10.5194/acp-16-9047-2016   AbstractWebsite

Warmer temperatures and elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations over the last several decades have been credited with increasing vegetation activity and photosynthetic uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere in the high northern latitude ecosystems: the boreal forest and arctic tundra. At the same time, soils in the region have been warming, permafrost is melting, fire frequency and severity are increasing, and some regions of the boreal forest are showing signs of stress due to drought or insect disturbance. The recent trends in net carbon balance of these ecosystems, across heterogeneous disturbance patterns, and the future implications of these changes are unclear. Here, we examine CO2 fluxes from northern boreal and tundra regions from 1985 to 2012, estimated from two atmospheric inversions (RIGC and Jena). Both used measured atmospheric CO2 concentrations and wind fields from interannually variable climate reanalysis. In the arctic zone, the latitude region above 60 degrees N excluding Europe (10 degrees W-63 degrees E), neither inversion finds a significant long-term trend in annual CO2 balance. The boreal zone, the latitude region from approximately 50-60 degrees N, again excluding Europe, showed a trend of 8-11 Tg C yr(-2) over the common period of validity from 1986 to 2006, resulting in an annual CO2 sink in 2006 that was 170-230 Tg C yr(-1) larger than in 1986. This trend appears to continue through 2012 in the Jena inversion as well. In both latitudinal zones, the seasonal amplitude of monthly CO2 fluxes increased due to increased uptake in summer, and in the arctic zone also due to increased fall CO2 release. These findings suggest that the boreal zone has been maintaining and likely increasing CO2 sink strength over this period, despite browning trends in some regions and changes in fire frequency and land use. Meanwhile, the arctic zone shows that increased summer CO2 uptake, consistent with strong greening trends, is offset by increased fall CO2 release, resulting in a net neutral trend in annual fluxes. The inversion fluxes from the arctic and boreal zones covering the permafrost regions showed no indication of a large-scale positive climate-carbon feedback caused by warming temperatures on high northern latitude terrestrial CO2 fluxes from 1985 to 2012.

Wagner, TJW, Dell RW, Eisenman I, Keeling RF, Padman L, Severinghaus JP.  2018.  Wave inhibition by sea ice enables trans-Atlantic ice rafting of debris during Heinrich events. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 495:157-163.   10.1016/j.epsl.2018.05.006   AbstractWebsite

The last glacial period was punctuated by episodes of massive iceberg calving from the Laurentide Ice Sheet, called Heinrich events, which are identified by layers of ice-rafted debris (IRD) in ocean sediment cores from the North Atlantic. The thickness of these IRD layers declines more gradually with distance from the iceberg sources than would be expected based on present-day iceberg drift and decay. Here we model icebergs as passive Lagrangian particles driven by ocean currents, winds, and sea surface temperatures. The icebergs are released in a comprehensive climate model simulation of the last glacial maximum (LGM), as well as a simulation of the modern climate. The two simulated climates result in qualitatively similar distributions of iceberg meltwater and hence debris, with the colder temperatures of the LGM having only a relatively small effect on meltwater spread. In both scenarios, meltwater flux falls off rapidly with zonal distance from the source, in contrast with the more uniform spread of IRD in sediment cores. To address this discrepancy, we propose a physical mechanism that could have prolonged the lifetime of icebergs during Heinrich events. The mechanism involves a surface layer of cold and fresh meltwater formed from, and retained around, large densely packed armadas of icebergs. This leads to wintertime sea ice formation even in relatively low latitudes. The sea ice in turn shields the icebergs from wave erosion, which is the main source of iceberg ablation. We find that sea ice could plausibly have formed around the icebergs during four months each winter. Allowing for four months of sea ice in the model results in a simulated IRD distribution which approximately agrees with the distribution of IRD in sediment cores. (C) 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.