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Enhanced seasonal exchange of CO2 by Northern ecosystems since 1960

H.D. Graven, R.F. Keeling, S.C. Piper, P.K. Patra, B.B. Stephens, S.C. Wofsy, L.R. Welp, C. Sweeney, P.P. Tans, J.J. Kelley, B.C. Daube, E.A. Kort, G.W. Santoni, J.D. Bent.

Science, published online: 8 August 2013
doi: 10.1126/science.1239207

Paper Abstract

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° to 90°N but by less than 25% for 10° to 45°N.

An approximately 50% increase in 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.


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