Publication Abstracts

Van Marle et al. 2022

Van Marle, M.J.E., D. van Wees, R.A. Houghton, R.D. Field, J. Verbesselt, and G.R. van der Werf, 2022: New land-use change emission estimates indicate a declining CO2 airborne fraction. Nature, 603, 450-454, doi:10.1038/s41586-021-04376-4.

About half of the anthropogenic CO2 emissions remain in the atmosphere and half are taken up by the land and ocean. If the carbon uptake by land and ocean sinks becomes less efficient, for example, owing to warming oceans or thawing permafrost, a larger fraction of anthropogenic emissions will remain in the atmosphere, accelerating climate change. Changes in the efficiency of the carbon sinks can be estimated indirectly by analysing trends in the airborne fraction, that is, the ratio between the atmospheric growth rate and anthropogenic emissions of CO2. However, current studies yield conflicting results about trends in the airborne fraction, with emissions related to land use and land cover change (LULCC) contributing the largest source of uncertainty. Here we construct a LULCC emissions dataset using visibility data in key deforestation zones. These visibility observations are a proxy for fire emissions, which are — in turn — related to LULCC. Although indirect, this provides a long-term consistent dataset of LULCC emissions, showing that tropical deforestation emissions increased substantially (0.16 Pg C decade-1) since the start of CO2 concentration measurements in 1958. So far, these emissions were thought to be relatively stable, leading to an increasing airborne fraction. Our results, however, indicate that the CO2 airborne fraction has decreased by 0.014±0.010 decade-1 since 1959. This suggests that the combined land-ocean sink has been able to grow at least as fast as anthropogenic emissions.

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BibTeX Citation

  author={van Marle, M. J. E. and van Wees, D. and Houghton, R. A. and Field, R. D. and Verbesselt, J. and van der Werf, G. R.},
  title={New land-use change emission estimates indicate a declining CO2 airborne fraction},

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RIS Citation

ID  - va01400p
AU  - van Marle, M. J. E.
AU  - van Wees, D.
AU  - Houghton, R. A.
AU  - Field, R. D.
AU  - Verbesselt, J.
AU  - van der Werf, G. R.
PY  - 2022
TI  - New land-use change emission estimates indicate a declining CO2 airborne fraction
JA  - Nature
VL  - 603
SP  - 450
EP  - 454
DO  - 10.1038/s41586-021-04376-4
ER  -

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