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'.

2013
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.   10.1126/science.1239207   AbstractWebsite

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.

2003
Le Quere, C, Aumont O, Bopp L, Bousquet P, Ciais P, Francey R, Heimann M, Keeling CD, Keeling RF, Kheshgi H, Peylin P, Piper SC, Prentice IC, Rayner PJ.  2003.  Two decades of ocean CO2 sink and variability. Tellus Series B-Chemical and Physical Meteorology. 55:649-656.   10.1034/j.1600-0889.2003.00043.x   AbstractWebsite

Atmospheric CO2 has increased at a nearly identical average rate of 3.3 and 3.2 Pg C yr(-1) for the decades of the 1980s and the 1990s, in spite of a large increase in fossil fuel emissions from 5.4 to 6.3 Pg C yr(-1). Thus, the sum of the ocean and land CO2 sinks was 1 Pg C yr(-1) larger in the 1990s than in to the 1980s. Here we quantify the ocean and land sinks for these two decades using recent atmospheric inversions and ocean models. The ocean and land sinks are estimated to be, respectively, 0.3 (0.1 to 0.6) and 0.7 (0.4 to 0.9) Pg C yr(-1) larger in the 1990s than in the 1980s. When variability less than 5 yr is removed, all estimates show a global oceanic sink more or less steadily increasing with time, and a large anomaly in the land sink during 1990-1994. For year-to-year variability, all estimates show 1/3 to 1/2 less variability in the ocean than on land, but the amplitude and phase of the oceanic variability remain poorly determined. A mean oceanic sink of 1.9 Pg C yr(-1) for the 1990s based on O-2 observations corrected for ocean outgassing is supported by these estimates, but an uncertainty on the mean value of the order of +/-0.7 Pg C yr(-1) remains. The difference between the two decades appears to be more robust than the absolute value of either of the two decades.