Publications

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2018
Betts, RA, Jones CD, Knight JR, Keeling RF, Kennedy JJ, Wiltshire AJ, Andrew RM, Aragao L.  2018.  A successful prediction of the record CO2 rise associated with the 2015/2016 El Nino. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences. 373   10.1098/rstb.2017.0301   AbstractWebsite

In early 2016, we predicted that the annual rise in carbon dioxide concentration at Mauna Loa would be the largest on record. Our forecast used a statistical relationship between observed and forecast sea surface temperatures in the Nino 3.4 region and the annual CO2 rise. Here, we provide a formal verification of that forecast. The observed rise of 3.4 ppm relative to 2015 was within the forecast range of 3.15 +/- 0.53 ppm, so the prediction was successful. A global terrestrial biosphere model supports the expectation that the El Nino weakened the tropical land carbon sink. We estimate that the El Nino contributed approximately 25% to the record rise in CO2, with 75% due to anthropogenic emissions. The 2015/2016 CO2 rise was greater than that following the previous large El Nino in 1997/1998, because anthropogenic emissions had increased. We had also correctly predicted that 2016 would be the first year with monthly mean CO2 above 400 ppm all year round. We now estimate that atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa would have remained above 400 ppm all year round in 2016 even if the El Nino had not occurred, contrary to our previous expectations based on a simple extrapolation of previous trends. This article is part of a discussion meeting issue 'The impact of the 2015/2016 El Nino on the terrestrial tropical carbon cycle: patterns, mechanisms and implications'.

2012
Manizza, M, Keeling RF, Nevison CD.  2012.  On the processes controlling the seasonal cycles of the air-sea fluxes of O2 and N2O: A modelling study. Tellus Series B-Chemical and Physical Meteorology. 64   10.3402/tellusb.v64i0.18429   AbstractWebsite

The seasonal dynamics of the air-sea gas flux of oxygen (O-2) are controlled by multiple processes occurring simultaneously. Previous studies showed how to separate the thermal component from the total O-2 flux to quantify the residual oxygen flux due to biological processes. However, this biological signal includes the effect of both net euphotic zone production (NEZP) and subsurface water ventilation. To help understand and separate these two components, we use a large-scale ocean general circulation model (OGCM), globally configured, and coupled to a biogeochemical model. The combined model implements not only the oceanic cycle of O-2 but also the cycles of nitrous oxide (N2O), argon (Ar) and nitrogen (N-2). For this study, we apply a technique to distinguish the fluxes of O-2 driven separately by thermal forcing, NEZP, and address the role of ocean ventilation by carrying separate O-2 components in the model driven by solubility, NEZP and ventilation. Model results show that the ventilation component can be neglected in summer compared to the production and thermal components polewards but not equatorward of 30 degrees in each hemisphere. This also implies that neglecting the role of ventilation in the subtropical areas would lead to overestimation of the component of O-2 flux due to NEZP by 20-30%. Model results also show that the ventilation components of air-sea O-2 and N2O fluxes are strongly anti-correlated in a ratio that reflects the subsurface tracer/tracer relationships (similar to 0.1 mmol N2O/mol O-2) as derived from observations. The results support the use of simple scaling relationships linking together the thermally driven fluxes of Ar, N-2 and O-2. Furthermore, our study also shows that for latitudes polewards of 30 degrees of both hemispheres, the Garcia and Keeling (2001) climatology, when compared to our model results, has a phasing error with the fluxes being too early by similar to 2-3 weeks.

2008
Hamme, RC, Keeling RF.  2008.  Ocean ventilation as a driver of interannual variability in atmospheric potential oxygen. Tellus Series B-Chemical and Physical Meteorology. 60:706-717.   10.1111/j.1600-0889.2008.00376.x   AbstractWebsite

We present observations of interannual variability on 2-5 yr timescales in atmospheric potential oxygen (APO approximate to O(2) + CO(2)) from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography global flask sampling network. Interannual variations in the tracer APO are expected to arise from air-sea fluxes alone, because APO is insensitive to exchanges with the terrestrial biosphere. These interannual variations are shown to be regionally coherent and robust to analytical artefacts. We focus on explaining a feature dominant in records from the Northern Hemisphere stations, marked by increasing APO in the late 1990s, followed by an abrupt drawdown in 2000-2001. The timing of the drawdown matches a renewal of deep convection in the North Atlantic, followed the next year by a severe winter in the western North Pacific that may have allowed ventilation of denser isopycnals than usual. We find a weak correlation between changes in the interhemispheric APO difference and El Nino indices, and the observations show no strong features of the 1997-98 El Nino. Comparisons with estimates of variations in ocean productivity and ocean heat content demonstrate that these processes are secondary influences at these timescales. We conclude that the evidence points to variability in ocean ventilation as the main driver of interannual variability in APO.

2005
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.

2000
Najjar, RG, Keeling RF.  2000.  Mean annual cycle of the air-sea oxygen flux: A global view. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 14:573-584.   10.1029/1999gb900086   AbstractWebsite

A global monthly-mean climatology of the air-sea oxygen flux is presented and discussed. The climatology is based on the ocean oxygen climatology of Najjar and Keeling [1997] and wind speeds derived from a meteorological analysis center. Seasonal variations are characterized by outgassing of oxygen during spring and summer and ingassing of oxygen during fall and winter, a pattern consistent with thermal and biological forcing of the air-sea oxygen flux. The annual mean flux pattern is characterized by ingassing at high latitudes and the tropics and outgassing in middle latitudes. The air-sea oxygen flux is shown to exhibit patterns that agree well with patterns seen in a marine primary productivity climatology, in model generated air-sea O-2 fluxes, in estimates of remineralization in the shallow aphotic zone based on seasonal oxygen variations, in observed seasonal nutrient-temperature relationships, and in independent estimates of meridional oxygen transport in the Atlantic ocean. We also find that extratropical mixed layer new production during the spring-summer period, computed from biological seasonal net outgassing of oxygen, is equivalent to the production of 4.5-5.6 Gt C, much lower than previous estimates based on atmospheric O-2/N-2 measurements.

1992
Keeling, RF, Shertz SR.  1992.  Seasonal and interannual variations in atmospheric oxygen and implications for the global carbon cycle. Nature. 358:723-727.   10.1038/358723a0   AbstractWebsite

Measurements of changes in atmospheric molecular oxygen using a new interferometric technique show that the O2 content of air varies seasonally in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and is decreasing from year to year. The seasonal variations provide a new basis for estimating global rates of biological organic carbon production in the ocean, and the interannual decrease constrains estimates of the rate of anthropogenic CO2 uptake by the oceans.