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Original Research Papers

Regional pattern and interannual variations in global terrestrial carbon uptake in response to changes in climate and atmospheric CO2

Authors:

Mingkui Cao ,

Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, CN; Department of Geography, Maryland University, US
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Stephen D. Prince,

Department of Geography, Maryland University, US
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B. Tao,

Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, CN
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J. Small,

Department of Geography, Maryland University, US
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Kerang Li

Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, CN
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Abstract

Atmospheric measurements indicate that the terrestrial carbon sink increased substantially from the 1980s to the 1990s, but which factors and regions were responsible for the increase are not well identified yet. Using process- and remote sensing-based ecosystem models, we show that changes in climate and atmospheric CO2 in the period 1981–2000 enhanced net ecosystem production (NEP) and caused major geographical changes in the global distribution of NEP. In the 1980s the Americas accounted for almost all of the global NEP, but in the 1990s NEP in Eurasia and Africa became higher than that of the Americas. The year-to-year variation in global NEP was up to 2.5 Pg C (1 Pg = 1015 g), in which 1.4 Pg C was attributable to the El Niño Southern Oscillation cycle (ENSO). NEP clearly decreased in El Niño and increased in La Niña in South America and Africa, but the response in North America and Eurasia was mixed. The estimated NEP increases accounted for only 30% of the global terrestrial carbon sink but can explain almost all of the increase from the 1980s to the 1990s. Because a large part of the increase in NEP was driven by the long-term trend of climate and atmospheric CO2, the increase in the global terrestrial carbon sink from the 1980s to the 1990s was a continuation of the trend since the middle of the twentieth century, rather than merely a consequence of short-time climate variability.

How to Cite: Cao, M., Prince, S.D., Tao, B., Small, J. and Li, K., 2005. Regional pattern and interannual variations in global terrestrial carbon uptake in response to changes in climate and atmospheric CO2. Tellus B: Chemical and Physical Meteorology, 57(3), pp.210–217. DOI: http://doi.org/10.3402/tellusb.v57i3.16536
  Published on 01 Jan 2005
 Accepted on 24 Jan 2005            Submitted on 1 Mar 2004

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