Reconciling estimates of the contemporary North American carbon balance among terrestrial biosphere models, atmospheric inversions, and a new approach for estimating net ecosystem exchange from inventory-based data

Daniel J. Hayes, David P. Turner, Graham Stinson, A. David McGuire, Yaxing Wei, Tristram O. West, Linda S. Heath, Bernardus de Jong, Brian G. McConkey, Richard A. Birdsey, Werner A. Kurz, Andrew R. Jacobson, Deborah N. Huntzinger, Yude Pan, W. Mac Post, Robert B. Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

80 Scopus citations

Abstract

We develop an approach for estimating net ecosystem exchange (NEE) using inventory-based information over North America (NA) for a recent 7-year period (ca. 2000-2006). The approach notably retains information on the spatial distribution of NEE, or the vertical exchange between land and atmosphere of all non-fossil fuel sources and sinks of CO 2, while accounting for lateral transfers of forest and crop products as well as their eventual emissions. The total NEE estimate of a -327 ± 252 TgC yr -1 sink for NA was driven primarily by CO 2 uptake in the Forest Lands sector (-248 TgC yr -1), largely in the Northwest and Southeast regions of the US, and in the Crop Lands sector (-297 TgC yr -1), predominantly in the Midwest US states. These sinks are counteracted by the carbon source estimated for the Other Lands sector (+218 TgC yr -1), where much of the forest and crop products are assumed to be returned to the atmosphere (through livestock and human consumption). The ecosystems of Mexico are estimated to be a small net source (+18 TgC yr -1) due to land use change between 1993 and 2002. We compare these inventory-based estimates with results from a suite of terrestrial biosphere and atmospheric inversion models, where the mean continental-scale NEE estimate for each ensemble is -511 TgC yr -1 and -931 TgC yr -1, respectively. In the modeling approaches, all sectors, including Other Lands, were generally estimated to be a carbon sink, driven in part by assumed CO 2 fertilization and/or lack of consideration of carbon sources from disturbances and product emissions. Additional fluxes not measured by the inventories, although highly uncertain, could add an additional -239 TgC yr -1 to the inventory-based NA sink estimate, thus suggesting some convergence with the modeling approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1282-1299
Number of pages18
JournalGlobal change biology
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2012

Keywords

  • Agriculture
  • CO emissions
  • CO sinks
  • Carbon cycle
  • Climate change
  • Forests
  • Inventory
  • Modeling
  • North America

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Science(all)

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    Hayes, D. J., Turner, D. P., Stinson, G., McGuire, A. D., Wei, Y., West, T. O., Heath, L. S., de Jong, B., McConkey, B. G., Birdsey, R. A., Kurz, W. A., Jacobson, A. R., Huntzinger, D. N., Pan, Y., Post, W. M., & Cook, R. B. (2012). Reconciling estimates of the contemporary North American carbon balance among terrestrial biosphere models, atmospheric inversions, and a new approach for estimating net ecosystem exchange from inventory-based data. Global change biology, 18(4), 1282-1299. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02627.x