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Title: Audit of the global carbon budget: estimate errors and their impact on uptake uncertainty

Abstract

Over the last 5 decades monitoring systems have been developed to detect changes in the accumulation of carbon (C) in the atmosphere and ocean; however, our ability to detect changes in the behavior of the global C cycle is still hindered by measurement and estimate errors. Here we present a rigorous and flexible framework for assessing the temporal and spatial components of estimate errors and their impact on uncertainty in net C uptake by the biosphere. We present a novel approach for incorporating temporally correlated random error into the error structure of emission estimates. Based on this approach, we conclude that the 2σ uncertainties of the atmospheric growth rate have decreased from 1.2 Pg C yr ₋1 in the 1960s to 0.3 Pg C yr ₋1 in the 2000s due to an expansion of the atmospheric observation network. The 2σ uncertainties in fossil fuel emissions have increased from 0.3 Pg C yr ₋1 in the 1960s to almost 1.0 Pg C yr ₋1 during the 2000s due to differences in national reporting errors and differences in energy inventories. Lastly, while land use emissions have remained fairly constant, their errors still remain high and thus their global C uptake uncertainty ismore » not trivial. Currently, the absolute errors in fossil fuel emissions rival the total emissions from land use, highlighting the extent to which fossil fuels dominate the global C budget. Because errors in the atmospheric growth rate have decreased faster than errors in total emissions have increased, a ~20% reduction in the overall uncertainty of net C global uptake has occurred. Given all the major sources of error in the global C budget that we could identify, we are 93% confident that terrestrial C uptake has increased and 97% confident that ocean C uptake has increased over the last 5 decades. Thus, it is clear that arguably one of the most vital ecosystem services currently provided by the biosphere is the continued removal of approximately half of atmospheric CO 2 emissions from the atmosphere, although there are certain environmental costs associated with this service, such as the acidification of ocean waters.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3]; ORCiD logo [4];  [5];  [6];  [1];  [1];  [7];  [7];  [8];  [9]
  1. Univ. of Montana, Missoula, MT (United States)
  2. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  3. Woods Hole Research Center, Falmouth, MA (United States)
  4. Imperial College, London (United Kingdom)
  5. Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory of NOAA, Miami, FL (United States)
  6. Princeton Univ., NJ (United States). Environmental Institute
  7. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Boulder, CO (United States). Earth System Research Lab.
  8. Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA (United States)
  9. Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1265488
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Biogeosciences (Online)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 12; Journal Issue: 8; Journal ID: ISSN 1726-4189
Publisher:
European Geosciences Union
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Ballantyne, A. P., Andres, R., Houghton, R., Stocker, B. D., Wanninkhof, R., Anderegg, W., Cooper, L. A., DeGrandpre, M., Tans, P. P., Miller, J. B., Alden, C., and White, J. W. C.. Audit of the global carbon budget: estimate errors and their impact on uptake uncertainty. United States: N. p., 2015. Web. doi:10.5194/bg-12-2565-2015.
Ballantyne, A. P., Andres, R., Houghton, R., Stocker, B. D., Wanninkhof, R., Anderegg, W., Cooper, L. A., DeGrandpre, M., Tans, P. P., Miller, J. B., Alden, C., & White, J. W. C.. Audit of the global carbon budget: estimate errors and their impact on uptake uncertainty. United States. doi:10.5194/bg-12-2565-2015.
Ballantyne, A. P., Andres, R., Houghton, R., Stocker, B. D., Wanninkhof, R., Anderegg, W., Cooper, L. A., DeGrandpre, M., Tans, P. P., Miller, J. B., Alden, C., and White, J. W. C.. Thu . "Audit of the global carbon budget: estimate errors and their impact on uptake uncertainty". United States. doi:10.5194/bg-12-2565-2015. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1265488.
@article{osti_1265488,
title = {Audit of the global carbon budget: estimate errors and their impact on uptake uncertainty},
author = {Ballantyne, A. P. and Andres, R. and Houghton, R. and Stocker, B. D. and Wanninkhof, R. and Anderegg, W. and Cooper, L. A. and DeGrandpre, M. and Tans, P. P. and Miller, J. B. and Alden, C. and White, J. W. C.},
abstractNote = {Over the last 5 decades monitoring systems have been developed to detect changes in the accumulation of carbon (C) in the atmosphere and ocean; however, our ability to detect changes in the behavior of the global C cycle is still hindered by measurement and estimate errors. Here we present a rigorous and flexible framework for assessing the temporal and spatial components of estimate errors and their impact on uncertainty in net C uptake by the biosphere. We present a novel approach for incorporating temporally correlated random error into the error structure of emission estimates. Based on this approach, we conclude that the 2σ uncertainties of the atmospheric growth rate have decreased from 1.2 Pg C yr₋1 in the 1960s to 0.3 Pg C yr₋1 in the 2000s due to an expansion of the atmospheric observation network. The 2σ uncertainties in fossil fuel emissions have increased from 0.3 Pg C yr₋1 in the 1960s to almost 1.0 Pg C yr₋1 during the 2000s due to differences in national reporting errors and differences in energy inventories. Lastly, while land use emissions have remained fairly constant, their errors still remain high and thus their global C uptake uncertainty is not trivial. Currently, the absolute errors in fossil fuel emissions rival the total emissions from land use, highlighting the extent to which fossil fuels dominate the global C budget. Because errors in the atmospheric growth rate have decreased faster than errors in total emissions have increased, a ~20% reduction in the overall uncertainty of net C global uptake has occurred. Given all the major sources of error in the global C budget that we could identify, we are 93% confident that terrestrial C uptake has increased and 97% confident that ocean C uptake has increased over the last 5 decades. Thus, it is clear that arguably one of the most vital ecosystem services currently provided by the biosphere is the continued removal of approximately half of atmospheric CO2 emissions from the atmosphere, although there are certain environmental costs associated with this service, such as the acidification of ocean waters.},
doi = {10.5194/bg-12-2565-2015},
journal = {Biogeosciences (Online)},
issn = {1726-4189},
number = 8,
volume = 12,
place = {United States},
year = {2015},
month = {4}
}

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Works referenced in this record:

Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel CO2 Emissions
dataset, January 2009

  • Boden, Thomas; Marland, G.; Andres, Robert
  • Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC), 27 files
  • DOI: 10.3334/CDIAC/00001