04 Apr 2022
04 Apr 2022

Inter–annual global carbon cycle variations linked to atmospheric circulation variability

Na Li1, Sebastian Sippel2, Alexander Winkler1, Miguel D. Mahecha3, Markus Reichstein1, and Ana Bastos1 Na Li et al.
  • 1Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Germany
  • 2Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, and Seminar for Statistics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
  • 3Remote Sensing Center for Earth System Research, Leipzig University, Germany

Abstract. One of the least understood temporal–scales of global carbon cycle (C–cycle) dynamics is its inter–annual variability (IAV). This variability is mainly driven by variations in the local climatic drivers of terrestrial ecosystem activity, which in turn are controlled by large–scale modes of atmospheric variability. Here, we quantify the fraction of C–cycle IAV that is explained by large–scale atmospheric circulation variability, which is quantified by spatio–temporal sea level pressure (SLP) fields. CO2 variability is diagnosed from the detrended atmospheric CO2 growth rate and the land CO2 sink from different datasets in the global carbon budget. We use a regularized linear regression model, a statistical learning technique, apt to deal with the large number of atmospheric circulation predictors (p ≥ 800, each representing one pixel–based time–series of SLP anomalies) in a relatively short observed record (n < 60 years). We show that boreal winter and spring SLP anomalies allow predicting IAV in atmospheric CO2 growth rate and of the global land sink, with Pearson correlations between reference and predicted values as high as 0.70–0.84 with boreal winter SLP anomalies. This is comparable or higher than that of a similar model using 15 traditional teleconnection indices as predictors. The coefficient patterns of the model based on SLP fields show a predominant role of the tropical Pacific and over Southeast Asia extending to Australia, corresponding to the regions associated with the El Niño/Southern Oscillation variability. We also identify one region in the western Pacific, roughly corresponding to the West Pacific pattern.

We further evaluate the influence of the time–series length on the predictability of IAV and find that reliable estimates of C–cycle IAV can be obtained from records of ~30–60 years. For shorter time–series (n < 30 years), however, conclusions about CO2 IAV patterns and drivers need to be evaluated with caution. Overall, our study illustrates a new data–driven and flexible approach to model the relationship between large–scale atmospheric circulation variations and C–cycle variability at global and regional scales, complementing the traditional use of teleconnection indices.

Na Li et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Na Li et al.

Na Li et al.


Total article views: 705 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total BibTeX EndNote
528 170 7 705 7 6
  • HTML: 528
  • PDF: 170
  • XML: 7
  • Total: 705
  • BibTeX: 7
  • EndNote: 6
Views and downloads (calculated since 04 Apr 2022)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 04 Apr 2022)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 666 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 666 with geography defined and 0 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1
Latest update: 30 Sep 2022
Short summary
Quantifying the imprint of large-scale atmospheric circulation dynamics and associated carbon cycle responses is key to improve our understanding of carbon cycle dynamics. Using a statistical model that relies of spatio-temporal sea level pressure as a proxy for large-scale atmospheric circulation, we quantify the fraction of interannual variability in atmospheric CO2 growth rate and the land CO2 sink that are driven by atmospheric circulation variability.