History of El Nino impacts on the global carbon cycle 1957-2017: a quantification from atmospheric CO2 data

TitleHistory of El Nino impacts on the global carbon cycle 1957-2017: a quantification from atmospheric CO2 data
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsRodenbeck C, Zaehle S., Keeling R., Heimann M.
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences
Date Published2018/11
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0962-8436
Accession NumberWOS:000446692700005
Keywordsatmospheric CO2 data; Climate sensitivity; dioxide; ecosystems; El Nino; Life Sciences & Biomedicine - Other Topics; southern-oscillation; transport; tropical temperature; variability

Interannual variations in the large-scale net ecosystem exchange (NEE) of CO2 between the terrestrial biosphere and the atmosphere were estimated for 1957-2017 from sustained measurements of atmospheric CO2 mixing ratios. As the observations are sparse in the early decades, available records were combined into a 'quasi-homogeneous' dataset based on similarity in their signals, to minimize spurious variations from beginning or ending data records. During El Nino events, CO2 is anomalously released from the tropical band, and a few months later also in the northern extratropical band. This behaviour can approximately be represented by a linear relationship of the NEE anomalies and local air temperature anomalies, with sensitivity coefficients depending on geographical location and season. The apparent climate sensitivity of global total NEE against variations in pan-tropically averaged annual air temperature slowly changed over time during the 1957-2017 period, first increasing (though less strongly than in previous studies) but then decreasing again. However, only part of this change can be attributed to actual changes in local physiological or ecosystem processes, the rest probably arising from shifts in the geographical area of dominating temperature variations. 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'.

Short TitlePhilos. Trans. R. Soc. B-Biol. Sci.
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