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Interannual growth rate variations of atmospheric CO2 and its δ13C, H2, CH4, and CO between 1992 and 1999 linked to biomass burning


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

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Langenfelds, R. L., Francey, R. J., Pak, B. C., Steele, L. P., Lloyd, J., Trudinger, C. M., et al. (2002). Interannual growth rate variations of atmospheric CO2 and its δ13C, H2, CH4, and CO between 1992 and 1999 linked to biomass burning. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 16(3), art. no.-1048. doi:10.1029/2003JD003729.

[1] High-precision, multispecies measurements of flask air samples since 1992 from CSIRO's global sampling network reveal strong correlation among interannual growth rate variations of CO2 and its delta(13)C, H-2,CH4, and CO. We show that a major fraction of the variability is consistent with two emission pulses coinciding with large biomass burning events in 1994/1995 and 1997/1998 in tropical and boreal regions, and observations of unusually high levels of combustion products in the overlying troposphere at these times. Implied pulse strengths and multispecies emission ratios are not consistent with any other single process, but do not exclude possible contributions from covarying processes that are linked through climatic forcing. Comparison of CO2 with its delta(13)C indicates that most of the CO2 variation is from terrestrial exchange, but does not distinguish forcing by biomass burning from imbalance in photosynthesis/respiration of terrestrial ecosystems. Partitioning of terrestrial CO2 fluxes is constrained by H-2,CH4, and CO, all of which are products of biomass burning but which have no direct link to net respiration of CO2. While CO is a strong indicator of biomass burning, its short lifetime prevents it from usefully constraining the magnitude of CO2 emissions. If the H-2 and CH4 variations were dominated by biomass burning, they would imply associated carbon emissions in excess of mean annual levels of other years, of 0.6-3.5 and 0.8-3.7 Pg C for 1994/1995 and 1997/1998, respectively. The large range in emission estimates mainly reflects uncertainty in H-2/CO2 and CH4/CO2 emission ratios of fires in these years.