Articles | Volume 16, issue 4
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 2123–2138, 2016
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 2123–2138, 2016

Research article 25 Feb 2016

Research article | 25 Feb 2016

Towards understanding the variability in biospheric CO2 fluxes: using FTIR spectrometry and a chemical transport model to investigate the sources and sinks of carbonyl sulfide and its link to CO2

Yuting Wang1, Nicholas M. Deutscher1,2, Mathias Palm1, Thorsten Warneke1, Justus Notholt1, Ian Baker3, Joe Berry4, Parvadha Suntharalingam5, Nicholas Jones2, Emmanuel Mahieu6, Bernard Lejeune6, James Hannigan7, Stephanie Conway8, Joseph Mendonca8, Kimberly Strong8, J. Elliott Campbell9, Adam Wolf10, and Stefanie Kremser11 Yuting Wang et al.
  • 1Institute of Environmental Physics, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
  • 2Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry, School of Chemistry, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia
  • 3Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
  • 4Carnegie Institute of Washington, Stanford, CA, USA
  • 5University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
  • 6Institute of Astrophysics and Geophysics, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium
  • 7National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 8Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  • 9University of California, Merced, CA, USA
  • 10Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
  • 11Bodeker Scientific, Alexandra, New Zealand

Abstract. Understanding carbon dioxide (CO2) biospheric processes is of great importance because the terrestrial exchange drives the seasonal and interannual variability of CO2 in the atmosphere. Atmospheric inversions based on CO2 concentration measurements alone can only determine net biosphere fluxes, but not differentiate between photosynthesis (uptake) and respiration (production). Carbonyl sulfide (OCS) could provide an important additional constraint: it is also taken up by plants during photosynthesis but not emitted during respiration, and therefore is a potential means to differentiate between these processes. Solar absorption Fourier Transform InfraRed (FTIR) spectrometry allows for the retrievals of the atmospheric concentrations of both CO2 and OCS from measured solar absorption spectra. Here, we investigate co-located and quasi-simultaneous FTIR measurements of OCS and CO2 performed at five selected sites located in the Northern Hemisphere. These measurements are compared to simulations of OCS and CO2 using a chemical transport model (GEOS-Chem). The coupled biospheric fluxes of OCS and CO2 from the simple biosphere model (SiB) are used in the study. The CO2 simulation with SiB fluxes agrees with the measurements well, while the OCS simulation reproduced a weaker drawdown than FTIR measurements at selected sites, and a smaller latitudinal gradient in the Northern Hemisphere during growing season when comparing with HIPPO (HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observations) data spanning both hemispheres. An offset in the timing of the seasonal cycle minimum between SiB simulation and measurements is also seen. Using OCS as a photosynthesis proxy can help to understand how the biospheric processes are reproduced in models and to further understand the carbon cycle in the real world.

Short summary
OCS could provide an additional constraint on the carbon cycle. The FTIR networks have existed for more than 20 years. For the first time, we used FTIR measurements of OCS and CO2 to study their relationship. We put the coupled CO2 and OCS land fluxes from the Simple Biosphere Model (SiB) into a transport model, and compared the simulations to the measurements. Looking at OCS and CO2 together inspires some new thoughts in how the biospheric models reproduce the carbon cycle in the real world.
Final-revised paper