Publications

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2018
Rodenbeck, C, Zaehle S, Keeling R, Heimann M.  2018.  How does the terrestrial carbon exchange respond to inter-annual climatic variations? A quantification based on atmospheric CO2 data Biogeosciences. 15:2481-2498.   10.5194/bg-15-2481-2018   AbstractWebsite

The response of the terrestrial net ecosystem exchange (NEE) of CO2 to climate variations and trends may crucially determine the future climate trajectory. Here we directly quantify this response on inter-annual timescales by building a linear regression of inter-annual NEE anomalies against observed air temperature anomalies into an atmospheric inverse calculation based on long-term atmospheric CO2 observations. This allows us to estimate the sensitivity of NEE to inter-annual variations in temperature (seen as a climate proxy) resolved in space and with season. As this sensitivity comprises both direct temperature effects and the effects of other climate variables co-varying with temperature, we interpret it as "inter-annual climate sensitivity". We find distinct seasonal patterns of this sensitivity in the northern extratropics that are consistent with the expected seasonal responses of photosynthesis, respiration, and fire. Within uncertainties, these sensitivity patterns are consistent with independent inferences from eddy covariance data. On large spatial scales, northern extratropical and tropical interannual NEE variations inferred from the NEE-T regression are very similar to the estimates of an atmospheric inversion with explicit inter-annual degrees of freedom. The results of this study offer a way to benchmark ecosystem process models in more detail than existing effective global climate sensitivities. The results can also be used to gap-fill or extrapolate observational records or to separate inter-annual variations from longer-term trends.

2011
Keeling, CD, Piper SC, Whorf TP, Keeling RF.  2011.  Evolution of natural and anthropogenic fluxes of atmospheric CO2 from 1957 to 2003. Tellus Series B-Chemical and Physical Meteorology. 63:1-22.   10.1111/j.1600-0889.2010.00507.x   AbstractWebsite

An analysis is carried out of the longest available records of atmospheric CO(2) and its 13C/12C ratio from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography network of fixed stations, augmented by data in the 1950s and 1960s from ships and ice floes. Using regression analysis, we separate the interhemispheric gradients of CO(2) and 13C/12C into: (1) a stationary (possibly natural) component that is constant with time, and (2) a time-evolving component that increases in proportion to fossil fuel emissions. Inverse calculations using an atmospheric transport model are used to interpret the components of the gradients in terms of land and ocean sinks. The stationary gradients in CO(2) and 13C/12C are both satisfactorily explained by ocean processes, including an ocean carbon loop that transports 0.5 PgC yr-1 southwards in the ocean balanced by an atmospheric return flow. A stationary northern land sink appears to be ruled out unless its effect on the gradient has been offset by a strong rectifier effect, which seems doubtful. A growing northern land sink is not ruled out, but has an uncertain magnitude (0.3-1.7 PgC yr-1 centred on year 2003) dependent on the rate at which CO(2) from fossil fuel burning is dispersed vertically and between hemispheres.

2008
Rodenbeck, C, Le Quere C, Heimann M, Keeling RF.  2008.  Interannual variability in oceanic biogeochemical processes inferred by inversion of atmospheric O2/N2 and CO2 data. Tellus Series B-Chemical and Physical Meteorology. 60:685-705.   10.1111/j.1600-0889.2008.00375.x   AbstractWebsite

Atmospheric measurements of O(2)/N(2) and CO(2) at up to nine sites have been used to infer the interannual variations in oceanic O(2) exchange with an inverse method. The method distinguishes the regional contributions of three latitudinal bands, partly the individual contributions of the North Pacific and the North Atlantic also. The interannual variations of the inferred O(2) fluxes in the tropical band correlate significantly with the El Nino/Southern Oscillation. Tropical O(2) variations appear to be dominated by the ventilation of the O(2) minimum zone from variations in Pacific equatorial upwelling. The interannual variations of the northern and southern extratropical bands are of similar amplitude, though the attribution to mechanisms is less clear. The interannual variations estimated by the inverse method are larger than those estimated by the current generation of global ocean biogeochemistry models, especially in the North Atlantic, suggesting that the representation of biological processes plays a role. The comparison further suggests that O(2) variability is a more stringent test to validate models than CO(2) variability, because the processes driving O(2) variability combine in the same direction and amplify the underlying climatic signal.