Articles | Volume 14, issue 11
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 5807–5824, 2014

Special issue: 9th International Carbon Dioxide Conference (ICDC9) (ESD/ACP/AMT/BG...

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 5807–5824, 2014

Research article 11 Jun 2014

Research article | 11 Jun 2014

Estimating Asian terrestrial carbon fluxes from CONTRAIL aircraft and surface CO2 observations for the period 2006–2010

H. F. Zhang2,1, B. Z. Chen1, I. T. van der Laan-Luijk3, T. Machida4, H. Matsueda5, Y. Sawa5, Y. Fukuyama6, R. Langenfelds7, M. van der Schoot7, G. Xu2,1, J. W. Yan2,1, M. L. Cheng2,1, L. X. Zhou8, P. P. Tans9, and W. Peters3,10 H. F. Zhang et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environment Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
  • 2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • 3Department of Meteorology and Air Quality (MAQ), Wageningen University, Droevendaalsesteeg 3a, 6700 PB, Wageningen, the Netherlands
  • 4Center for Global Environmental Research, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Tsukuba, Japan
  • 5Geochemical Research Department, Meteorological Research Institute, Tsukuba, Japan
  • 6Atmospheric Environment Division, Global Environment and Marine Department, Japan Meteorological Agency, Japan
  • 7Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research/CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Aspendale, Victoria, Australia
  • 8Key Laboratory for Atmospheric Chemistry of China Meteorological Administration, Research Institute of Atmospheric Composition of Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing 100081, China
  • 9Earth System Research Laboratory, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, Colorado 80305, USA
  • 10Centre for Isotope Research, Groningen, the Netherlands

Abstract. Current estimates of the terrestrial carbon fluxes in Asia show large uncertainties particularly in the boreal and mid-latitudes and in China. In this paper, we present an updated carbon flux estimate for Asia ("Asia" refers to lands as far west as the Urals and is divided into boreal Eurasia, temperate Eurasia and tropical Asia based on TransCom regions) by introducing aircraft CO2 measurements from the CONTRAIL (Comprehensive Observation Network for Trace gases by Airline) program into an inversion modeling system based on the CarbonTracker framework. We estimated the averaged annual total Asian terrestrial land CO2 sink was about −1.56 Pg C yr−1 over the period 2006–2010, which offsets about one-third of the fossil fuel emission from Asia (+4.15 Pg C yr−1). The uncertainty of the terrestrial uptake estimate was derived from a set of sensitivity tests and ranged from −1.07 to −1.80 Pg C yr−1, comparable to the formal Gaussian error of ±1.18 Pg C yr−1 (1-sigma). The largest sink was found in forests, predominantly in coniferous forests (−0.64 ± 0.70 Pg C yr−1) and mixed forests (−0.14 ± 0.27 Pg C yr−1); and the second and third large carbon sinks were found in grass/shrub lands and croplands, accounting for −0.44 ± 0.48 Pg C yr−1 and −0.20 ± 0.48 Pg C yr−1, respectively. The carbon fluxes per ecosystem type have large a priori Gaussian uncertainties, and the reduction of uncertainty based on assimilation of sparse observations over Asia is modest (8.7–25.5%) for most individual ecosystems. The ecosystem flux adjustments follow the detailed a priori spatial patterns by design, which further increases the reliance on the a priori biosphere exchange model. The peak-to-peak amplitude of inter-annual variability (IAV) was 0.57 Pg C yr−1 ranging from −1.71 Pg C yr−1 to −2.28 Pg C yr−1. The IAV analysis reveals that the Asian CO2 sink was sensitive to climate variations, with the lowest uptake in 2010 concurrent with a summer flood and autumn drought and the largest CO2 sink in 2009 owing to favorable temperature and plentiful precipitation conditions. We also found the inclusion of the CONTRAIL data in the inversion modeling system reduced the uncertainty by 11% over the whole Asian region, with a large reduction in the southeast of boreal Eurasia, southeast of temperate Eurasia and most tropical Asian areas.

Final-revised paper