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Tropical nighttime warming as a dominant driver of variability in the terrestrial carbon sink

Tropical nighttime warming as a dominant driver of variability in the terrestrial carbon sink
Tropical nighttime warming as a dominant driver of variability in the terrestrial carbon sink
The terrestrial biosphere is currently a strong carbon (C) sink but may switch to a source in the 21st century as climate-driven losses exceed CO2-driven C gains, thereby accelerating global warming. Although it has long been recognized that tropical climate plays a critical role in regulating interannual climate variability, the causal link between changes in temperature and precipitation and terrestrial processes remains uncertain. Here, we combine atmospheric mass balance, remote sensing-modeled datasets of vegetation C uptake, and climate datasets to characterize the temporal variability of the terrestrial C sink and determine the dominant climate drivers of this variability. We show that the interannual variability of global land C sink has grown by 50–100% over the past 50 y. We further find that interannual land C sink variability is most strongly linked to tropical nighttime warming, likely through respiration. This apparent sensitivity of respiration to nighttime temperatures, which are projected to increase faster than global average temperatures, suggests that C stored in tropical forests may be vulnerable to future warming.
climate change, climate feedback, asymmetrical warming, carbon budget, inversion model
0027-8424
15591-15596
Anderegg, William R.L.
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Ballantyne, Ashley P.
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Smith, W. Kolby
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Majkut, Joseph
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Rabin, Sam
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Beaulieu, Claudie
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Birdsey, Richard
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Dunne, John P.
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Houghton, Richard A.
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Myneni, Ranga
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Pan, Yude
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Sarmiento, Jorge L.
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Serota, Nathan
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Shevliakova, Elena
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Tans, Pieter
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Pacala, Stephen W.
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Anderegg, William R.L.
b1b6da32-45cf-4655-85ea-59d262793882
Ballantyne, Ashley P.
c82f14ba-8043-4317-8ae2-d3914b7ec953
Smith, W. Kolby
ac2d1b7d-5d3f-4661-9245-e359c9ac73c6
Majkut, Joseph
d2f8547f-8d50-451e-8bd1-934ad14a9eb5
Rabin, Sam
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Beaulieu, Claudie
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Birdsey, Richard
46239d83-f286-4ed6-881f-f34f2b863569
Dunne, John P.
508bf510-9fcb-4bf8-998f-f1a0e3f471a7
Houghton, Richard A.
99ec09a3-f299-424a-a522-0d7ea0430e06
Myneni, Ranga
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Pan, Yude
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Sarmiento, Jorge L.
45f5964b-15e6-43e8-bdd4-8789e2eb87cb
Serota, Nathan
b720f63a-433a-4a3f-a104-161c329c7f80
Shevliakova, Elena
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Tans, Pieter
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Pacala, Stephen W.
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Anderegg, William R.L., Ballantyne, Ashley P., Smith, W. Kolby, Majkut, Joseph, Rabin, Sam, Beaulieu, Claudie, Birdsey, Richard, Dunne, John P., Houghton, Richard A., Myneni, Ranga, Pan, Yude, Sarmiento, Jorge L., Serota, Nathan, Shevliakova, Elena, Tans, Pieter and Pacala, Stephen W. (2016) Tropical nighttime warming as a dominant driver of variability in the terrestrial carbon sink. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112 (51), 15591-15596. (doi:10.1073/pnas.1521479112).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The terrestrial biosphere is currently a strong carbon (C) sink but may switch to a source in the 21st century as climate-driven losses exceed CO2-driven C gains, thereby accelerating global warming. Although it has long been recognized that tropical climate plays a critical role in regulating interannual climate variability, the causal link between changes in temperature and precipitation and terrestrial processes remains uncertain. Here, we combine atmospheric mass balance, remote sensing-modeled datasets of vegetation C uptake, and climate datasets to characterize the temporal variability of the terrestrial C sink and determine the dominant climate drivers of this variability. We show that the interannual variability of global land C sink has grown by 50–100% over the past 50 y. We further find that interannual land C sink variability is most strongly linked to tropical nighttime warming, likely through respiration. This apparent sensitivity of respiration to nighttime temperatures, which are projected to increase faster than global average temperatures, suggests that C stored in tropical forests may be vulnerable to future warming.

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e-pub ahead of print date: 7 December 2015
Published date: 5 January 2016
Keywords: climate change, climate feedback, asymmetrical warming, carbon budget, inversion model
Organisations: Physical Oceanography

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 384873
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/384873
ISSN: 0027-8424
PURE UUID: 75288e59-4d61-424a-838d-fbeb4d495e02

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Date deposited: 09 Dec 2015 11:58
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 20:01

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Contributors

Author: William R.L. Anderegg
Author: Ashley P. Ballantyne
Author: W. Kolby Smith
Author: Joseph Majkut
Author: Sam Rabin
Author: Richard Birdsey
Author: John P. Dunne
Author: Richard A. Houghton
Author: Ranga Myneni
Author: Yude Pan
Author: Jorge L. Sarmiento
Author: Nathan Serota
Author: Elena Shevliakova
Author: Pieter Tans
Author: Stephen W. Pacala

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