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Title: The terrestrial biosphere as a net source of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere

The terrestrial biosphere can release or absorb the greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), and therefore has an important role in regulating atmospheric composition and climate1. Anthropogenic activities such as land-use change, agriculture and waste management have altered terrestrial biogenic greenhouse gas fluxes, and the resulting increases in methane and nitrous oxide emissions in particular can contribute to climate change2, 3. The terrestrial biogenic fluxes of individual greenhouse gases have been studied extensively4, 5, 6, but the net biogenic greenhouse gas balance resulting from anthropogenic activities and its effect on the climate system remains uncertain. Here we use bottom-up (inventory, statistical extrapolation of local flux measurements, and process-based modelling) and top-down (atmospheric inversions) approaches to quantify the global net biogenic greenhouse gas balance between 1981 and 2010 resulting from anthropogenic activities and its effect on the climate system. We find that the cumulative warming capacity of concurrent biogenic methane and nitrous oxide emissions is a factor of about two larger than the cooling effect resulting from the global land carbon dioxide uptake from 2001 to 2010. This results in a net positive cumulative impact of the three greenhouse gases on the planetary energy budget, withmore » a best estimate (in petagrams of CO2 equivalent per year) of 3.9 ± 3.8 (top down) and 5.4 ± 4.8 (bottom up) based on the GWP100 metric (global warming potential on a 100-year time horizon). Lastly, our findings suggest that a reduction in agricultural methane and nitrous oxide emissions, particularly in Southern Asia, may help mitigate climate change.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [6] ;  [7] ;  [8] ;  [9] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [3] ;  [10] ;  [11] ;  [1] ;  [3] ;  [12] ;  [10] ;  [9] ;  [13] more »;  [14] ;  [15] ;  [16] « less
  1. Auburn Univ., Auburn, AL (United States)
  2. Auburn Univ., Auburn, AL (United States); Iowa State Univ., Ames, IA (United States)
  3. Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, Gif sur Yvette (France)
  4. Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford, CA (United States)
  5. CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Research, Canberra (Australia)
  6. Emory Univ., Atlanta, GA (United States)
  7. Northern Arizona Univ., Flagstaff, AZ (United States)
  8. Arizona State Univ., Tempe, AZ (United States)
  9. Univ. of Exeter, Exeter (United Kingdom)
  10. NOAA Earth System Research Lab., Boulder, CO (United States)
  11. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  12. Northern Arizona Univ., Flagstaff, AZ (United States); Woods Hole Research Center, Falmouth, MA (United States)
  13. The Ecosystems Center, Woods Hole, MA (United States)
  14. Montana State Univ., Bozeman, MT (United States)
  15. Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA (United States)
  16. Harvard Univ., Cambridge, MA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature (London)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Nature (London); Journal Volume: 531; Journal Issue: 7593; Journal ID: ISSN 0028-0836
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States