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Journal Article

Modeling 13C discrimination in tree rings


Lloyd,  J.
Research Group Carbon-Change Atmosphere, Dr. J. Lloyd, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Berninger, F., Sonninen, E., Aalto, T., & Lloyd, J. (2000). Modeling 13C discrimination in tree rings. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 14(1), 213-223. doi:10.1029/1999GB900064.

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Annual variations from 1877 to 1995 in tree-ring alpha-cellulose C-13/C-12 isotopic ratios for four subarctic Pinus sylvestris trees were determined, and, in conjunction with a recent record of atmospheric (CO2)-C-13/(CO2)-C-12 ratios, the historical pattern of photosynthetic isotope discrimination, Delta(13)C, was evaluated. Year-to-year variability in Delta(13)C has been as much as 1.5 parts per thousand with the period 1900-1920 showing an extended period of unusually high photosynthetic discriminations. The summers during these years were, on average, unusually cold. Since 1920 a long term trend of increasing Delta(13)C of similar to 0.016 parts per thousand yr(-1) is inferred. We compared measured Delta(13)C with those predicted on the basis of the theoretical relationship between Delta(13)C and the ratio of substomatal to ambient CO2 concentration, C-i/C-a using mechanistic equations for chloroplast biochemistry coupled with a stomatal conductance model. Two variations of a nonlinear optimal-regulation stomatal conductance model were compared. Although both models were based on the assumption that stomata serve to minimize the average transpiration rate for a given average rate of CO2 assimilation, one version of the model incorporated reductions in stomatal conductance in response to recent increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations and the other did not. The CO2 sensitive stomatal model failed to describe the long-term increase in C-13 discrimination, especially after 1950. The insensitive model gave good agreement, suggesting that an observed increase in subarctic Pinus sylvestris Delta(13)C since 1920 is attributable to recent increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations with subsequent increases in the ratio of substomatal to ambient CO2 concentrations. The model was also capable of accounting for high frequency (year-to-year) variations in Delta(13)C, these differences being attributable to year-to-year fluctuations in the average leaf-to-air vapor pressure difference affecting stomatal conductance and hence C-i/C-a. [References: 59]