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Title: Global land carbon sink response to temperature and precipitation varies with ENSO phase

Abstract

Climate variability associated with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and its consequent impacts on land carbon sink interannual variability have been used as a basis for investigating carbon cycle responses to climate variability more broadly, and to inform the sensitivity of the tropical carbon budget to climate change. Past studies have presented opposing views about whether temperature or precipitation is the primary factor driving the response of the land carbon sink to ENSO. Here, we show that the dominant driver varies with ENSO phase. Whereas tropical temperature explains sink dynamics following El Niño conditions (r TG,P=0.59, p<0.01), the post La Niña sink is driven largely by tropical precipitation (r PG,T=-0.46, p=0.04). This finding points to an ENSO-phase-dependent interplay between water availability and temperature in controlling the carbon uptake response to climate variations in tropical ecosystems. We further find that none of a suite of ten contemporary terrestrial biosphere models captures these ENSO-phase-dependent responses, highlighting a key uncertainty in modeling climate impacts on the future of the global land carbon sink.

Authors:
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Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1406686
Report Number(s):
PNNL-SA-127177
Journal ID: ISSN 1748-9326
DOE Contract Number:
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Environmental Research Letters; Journal Volume: 12; Journal Issue: 6
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Fang, Yuanyuan, Michalak, Anna M., Schwalm, Christopher R., Huntzinger, Deborah N., Berry, Joseph A., Ciais, Philippe, Piao, Shilong, Poulter, Benjamin, Fisher, Joshua B., Cook, Robert B., Hayes, Daniel, Huang, Maoyi, Ito, Akihiko, Jain, Atul, Lei, Huimin, Lu, Chaoqun, Mao, Jiafu, Parazoo, Nicholas C., Peng, Shushi, Ricciuto, Daniel M., Shi, Xiaoying, Tao, Bo, Tian, Hanqin, Wang, Weile, Wei, Yaxing, and Yang, Jia. Global land carbon sink response to temperature and precipitation varies with ENSO phase. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aa6e8e.
Fang, Yuanyuan, Michalak, Anna M., Schwalm, Christopher R., Huntzinger, Deborah N., Berry, Joseph A., Ciais, Philippe, Piao, Shilong, Poulter, Benjamin, Fisher, Joshua B., Cook, Robert B., Hayes, Daniel, Huang, Maoyi, Ito, Akihiko, Jain, Atul, Lei, Huimin, Lu, Chaoqun, Mao, Jiafu, Parazoo, Nicholas C., Peng, Shushi, Ricciuto, Daniel M., Shi, Xiaoying, Tao, Bo, Tian, Hanqin, Wang, Weile, Wei, Yaxing, & Yang, Jia. Global land carbon sink response to temperature and precipitation varies with ENSO phase. United States. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aa6e8e.
Fang, Yuanyuan, Michalak, Anna M., Schwalm, Christopher R., Huntzinger, Deborah N., Berry, Joseph A., Ciais, Philippe, Piao, Shilong, Poulter, Benjamin, Fisher, Joshua B., Cook, Robert B., Hayes, Daniel, Huang, Maoyi, Ito, Akihiko, Jain, Atul, Lei, Huimin, Lu, Chaoqun, Mao, Jiafu, Parazoo, Nicholas C., Peng, Shushi, Ricciuto, Daniel M., Shi, Xiaoying, Tao, Bo, Tian, Hanqin, Wang, Weile, Wei, Yaxing, and Yang, Jia. 2017. "Global land carbon sink response to temperature and precipitation varies with ENSO phase". United States. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aa6e8e.
@article{osti_1406686,
title = {Global land carbon sink response to temperature and precipitation varies with ENSO phase},
author = {Fang, Yuanyuan and Michalak, Anna M. and Schwalm, Christopher R. and Huntzinger, Deborah N. and Berry, Joseph A. and Ciais, Philippe and Piao, Shilong and Poulter, Benjamin and Fisher, Joshua B. and Cook, Robert B. and Hayes, Daniel and Huang, Maoyi and Ito, Akihiko and Jain, Atul and Lei, Huimin and Lu, Chaoqun and Mao, Jiafu and Parazoo, Nicholas C. and Peng, Shushi and Ricciuto, Daniel M. and Shi, Xiaoying and Tao, Bo and Tian, Hanqin and Wang, Weile and Wei, Yaxing and Yang, Jia},
abstractNote = {Climate variability associated with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and its consequent impacts on land carbon sink interannual variability have been used as a basis for investigating carbon cycle responses to climate variability more broadly, and to inform the sensitivity of the tropical carbon budget to climate change. Past studies have presented opposing views about whether temperature or precipitation is the primary factor driving the response of the land carbon sink to ENSO. Here, we show that the dominant driver varies with ENSO phase. Whereas tropical temperature explains sink dynamics following El Niño conditions (rTG,P=0.59, p<0.01), the post La Niña sink is driven largely by tropical precipitation (rPG,T=-0.46, p=0.04). This finding points to an ENSO-phase-dependent interplay between water availability and temperature in controlling the carbon uptake response to climate variations in tropical ecosystems. We further find that none of a suite of ten contemporary terrestrial biosphere models captures these ENSO-phase-dependent responses, highlighting a key uncertainty in modeling climate impacts on the future of the global land carbon sink.},
doi = {10.1088/1748-9326/aa6e8e},
journal = {Environmental Research Letters},
number = 6,
volume = 12,
place = {United States},
year = 2017,
month = 5
}
  • Climate variability associated with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and its consequent impacts on land carbon sink interannual variability have been used as a basis for investigating carbon cycle responses to climate variability more broadly, and to inform the sensitivity of the tropical carbon budget to climate change. Past studies have presented opposing views about whether temperature or precipitation is the primary factor driving the response of the land carbon sink to ENSO. We show that the dominant driver varies with ENSO phase. And whereas tropical temperature explains sink dynamics following El Niño conditions (r TG,P = 0.59, p <more » 0.01), the post La Niña sink is driven largely by tropical precipitation (r PG,T= -0.46, p = 0.04). This finding points to an ENSO-phase-dependent interplay between water availability and temperature in controlling the carbon uptake response to climate variations in tropical ecosystems. Furthermore, we find that none of a suite of ten contemporary terrestrial biosphere models captures these ENSO-phase-dependent responses, highlighting a key uncertainty in modeling climate impacts on the future of the global land carbon sink.« less
  • Global temperature anomalies associated with El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) are investigated, making use of a 13-year record of gridded temperature and precipitation data from the microwave sounding unit (MSU). The warm phase of the ENSO cycle during this period was characterized by an overall warming of the tropical troposphere, superimposed upon a distinctive equatorially symmetric dumbbell-shaped pattern straddling the equator near 140 deg W, accompanied by negative anomalies along the equator over the western Pacific. By means of singular value decomposition (SVD) analysis it is shown that this pattern fluctuated in phase with the displacements of convective activity over themore » equatorial Pacific, as reflected in the anomalies in outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) and MSU precipitation fields. Fluctuations in mean tropical tropospheric temperature lagged the OLR anomalies and the related temperature pattern by about 3 months. The same dumbbell-shaped pattern was evident, with reversed polarity, in the lower stratosphere, together with the zonally symmetric signature of the quasi-biennial oscillation. The dumbbell-shaped temperature pattern is related to the off-equatorial upper-tropospheric gyres that have been identified in previous studies. It can be interpreted as the dynamical response to shifts in the distribution of diabatic heating in the equatorial belt. It resembles the linear response to an equatorial heat source, but its major centers of action are shifted slightly eastward. It is detectable in SVD analysis for each season, but appears to be best organized around March, the season in which the equatorial cold tongue is weakest and precipitation anomalies associated with the ENSO cycle impact the equatorial dry zone most strongly.« less
  • During most of the December 1990-February 1991 season sharp transcontinental temperature anomaly contrasts were evident in North America, Eurasia, and Australia. Large-scale atmospheric precipitations are more difficult to characterize. In the equatorial tropics there was some evidence of conditions similar to ENSO near the date line, but an almost complete failure of other ENSO components to appear in the east Pacific and in the tropical atmospheric circulation. 12 refs., 21 figs., 1 tab.
  • An ocean general circulation model is used to study the influence of positive precipitation anomalies associated with El Nino and La Nina events. In this idealized model, the precipitation over the appropriate part of the equatorial Indo-Pacific region is doubled for one year. At the surface, salinity anomalies of up to -0.9 parts per thousand result from this anomalous precipitation. Perturbation surface currents ranging from 10-100% of the climatological values are induced in the tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans. A return flow is found beneath the thermocline with upwelling (downwelling) in (outside) the region of enhanced precipitation. The net effectmore » of the precipitation anomalies is to generate a zonal overturning cell which transports fresher surface water away from the forcing region and replaces it with cooler, more saline water from below. 23 refs., 12 figs.« less
  • The global fields of normal monthly soil moisture and land surface evapotranspiration are derived with a simple water budget model that has precipitation and potential evapotranspiration as inputs. The precipitation is observed and the potential evapotranspiration is derived from the observed surface air temperature with the empirical regression equation of Thornthwaite. It is shown that at locations where the net surface radiation flux has been measured. The potential evapotranspiration given by the Thornthwaite equation is in good agreement with those obtained with the radiation-based formulations of Priestley and Taylor. Penman, and Budyko, and this provides the justification for the usemore » of the Thornthwaite equation. After deriving the global fields of soil moisture and evapotranspiration, the assumption is made that the potential evapotranspiration given by the Thornthwaite equation and by the Priestley-Taylor equation will everywhere be about the same; and the inverse of the Priestley-Taylor equation is used to obtain the normal monthly global fields of net surface radiation flux minus ground heat storage. This and the derived evapotranspiration are then used in the equation for energy conservation at the surface of the earth to obtain the global fields of normal monthly sensible heat flux from the land surface to the atmosphere. 68 refs., 24 figs., 1 tab.« less