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Title: A Brief Review of the Application of 14C in Terrestrial Carbon Cycle Studies

Abstract

An over-arching goal of the DOE TCP program is to understand the mechanistic controls over the fate, transport, and residence time of carbon in the terrestrial biosphere. Many of the modern process and modeling studies focus on seasonal to interannual variability. However, much of the carbon on the landscape and in soils is in separate reservoirs with turnover times that are multi-decadal to millennial. It is the controls on these longer term pools or reservoirs that is a critical unknown in the face of rising GHGs and climate change and uncertainties of the terrestrial biosphere as a future global sink or source of atmospheric CO{sub 2} [eg., Friedlingstein et al., 2006; Govindasamy et al., 2005; Thompson et al., 2004]. Radiocarbon measurements, in combination with other data, can provide insight into, and constraints on, terrestrial carbon cycling. Radiocarbon (t{sub 1/2} 5730yrs) is produced naturally in the stratosphere when secondary neutrons generated by cosmic rays collide with {sup 14}N atoms [Libby 1946; Arnold and Libby, 1949]. Upon formation, {sup 14}C is rapidly oxidized to CO and then to CO{sub 2}, and is incorporated into the carbon cycle. Due to anthropogenic activities, the amount of {sup 14}C in the atmosphere doubled in themore » mid/late 1950s and early 1960s from its preindustrial value of {sup 14}C/{sup 12}C ratio of 1.18 x 10{sup -12} [eg., Nydal and Lovseth, 1983]. Following the atmospheric weapons test ban in 1963, the {sup 14}C/{sup 12}C ratio, has decreased due to the net isotopic exchange between the ocean and terrestrial biosphere [eg., Levin and Hessheimer, 2000] and a dilution effect due to the burning of {sup 14}C-free fossil fuel carbon, the 'Suess Effect' [Suess, 1955]. In the carbon cycle literature, radiocarbon measurements are generally reported as {Delta}{sup 14}C, which includes a correction for mass dependent fractionation [Stuiver and Polach, 1977]. In the context of carbon cycle studies radiocarbon measurements can be used to determine the 'age' and rate of change of carbon stocks or as a biogeochemical tracer to elucidate processes and pathways. It is this dual nature that can be exploited across scales in space (individual plant, plot or research site, ecosystem, regional, and global) and time (days to millennia). For example, across regional scales, {Delta}{sup 14}C measurements of atmosphere CO{sub 2} can be used to attribute carbon dioxide to sources (e.g., respiration vs. fossil fuel emissions) or sinks ( e.g,. photosynthesis), which cannot be readily inferred from concentration, net flux measurements, or {delta}{sup 13}CO{sub 2} [eg. Graven et al., 2009; Levin and Hessheimer, 2000; Turnbull et al., 2007]. At smaller scales, similar analyses can be used to elucidate the source, and 'age' of the below ground component undergoing heterotrophic respiration. Net (biome or ecosystem) uptake of carbon is the difference of two large fluxes: photosynthesis and respiration. Carbon fixation by photosynthesis is, to a large extent, a single process with theoretical underpinnings. On the other-hand, net ecosystem or biome respiration integrates microbial (heterotrophic) and plant (autotrophic) respiration. Eddy covariance methods can be used to estimate bulk CO{sub 2} fluxes but they cannot discriminate the process nor the source of the respired CO{sub 2}. It is these processes that are parameterized in predictive models and contribute to the uncertainty in the climate forcing effect of the carbon cycle in the future [Friedlingstein et al., 2006; Heimann and Reichstein, 2008].« less

Authors:
;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
967755
Report Number(s):
LLNL-TR-418559
TRN: US200924%%177
DOE Contract Number:  
W-7405-ENG-48
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; ATOMS; BIOSPHERE; CARBON; CARBON CYCLE; CARBON DIOXIDE; CLIMATES; DILUTION; ECOSYSTEMS; FOSSIL FUELS; FRACTIONATION; ISOTOPIC EXCHANGE; NEUTRONS; PHOTOSYNTHESIS; RESPIRATION; SOILS; STRATOSPHERE; WEAPONS

Citation Formats

Guilderson, T, and Mcfarlane, K. A Brief Review of the Application of 14C in Terrestrial Carbon Cycle Studies. United States: N. p., 2009. Web. doi:10.2172/967755.
Guilderson, T, & Mcfarlane, K. A Brief Review of the Application of 14C in Terrestrial Carbon Cycle Studies. United States. doi:10.2172/967755.
Guilderson, T, and Mcfarlane, K. Thu . "A Brief Review of the Application of 14C in Terrestrial Carbon Cycle Studies". United States. doi:10.2172/967755. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/967755.
@article{osti_967755,
title = {A Brief Review of the Application of 14C in Terrestrial Carbon Cycle Studies},
author = {Guilderson, T and Mcfarlane, K},
abstractNote = {An over-arching goal of the DOE TCP program is to understand the mechanistic controls over the fate, transport, and residence time of carbon in the terrestrial biosphere. Many of the modern process and modeling studies focus on seasonal to interannual variability. However, much of the carbon on the landscape and in soils is in separate reservoirs with turnover times that are multi-decadal to millennial. It is the controls on these longer term pools or reservoirs that is a critical unknown in the face of rising GHGs and climate change and uncertainties of the terrestrial biosphere as a future global sink or source of atmospheric CO{sub 2} [eg., Friedlingstein et al., 2006; Govindasamy et al., 2005; Thompson et al., 2004]. Radiocarbon measurements, in combination with other data, can provide insight into, and constraints on, terrestrial carbon cycling. Radiocarbon (t{sub 1/2} 5730yrs) is produced naturally in the stratosphere when secondary neutrons generated by cosmic rays collide with {sup 14}N atoms [Libby 1946; Arnold and Libby, 1949]. Upon formation, {sup 14}C is rapidly oxidized to CO and then to CO{sub 2}, and is incorporated into the carbon cycle. Due to anthropogenic activities, the amount of {sup 14}C in the atmosphere doubled in the mid/late 1950s and early 1960s from its preindustrial value of {sup 14}C/{sup 12}C ratio of 1.18 x 10{sup -12} [eg., Nydal and Lovseth, 1983]. Following the atmospheric weapons test ban in 1963, the {sup 14}C/{sup 12}C ratio, has decreased due to the net isotopic exchange between the ocean and terrestrial biosphere [eg., Levin and Hessheimer, 2000] and a dilution effect due to the burning of {sup 14}C-free fossil fuel carbon, the 'Suess Effect' [Suess, 1955]. In the carbon cycle literature, radiocarbon measurements are generally reported as {Delta}{sup 14}C, which includes a correction for mass dependent fractionation [Stuiver and Polach, 1977]. In the context of carbon cycle studies radiocarbon measurements can be used to determine the 'age' and rate of change of carbon stocks or as a biogeochemical tracer to elucidate processes and pathways. It is this dual nature that can be exploited across scales in space (individual plant, plot or research site, ecosystem, regional, and global) and time (days to millennia). For example, across regional scales, {Delta}{sup 14}C measurements of atmosphere CO{sub 2} can be used to attribute carbon dioxide to sources (e.g., respiration vs. fossil fuel emissions) or sinks ( e.g,. photosynthesis), which cannot be readily inferred from concentration, net flux measurements, or {delta}{sup 13}CO{sub 2} [eg. Graven et al., 2009; Levin and Hessheimer, 2000; Turnbull et al., 2007]. At smaller scales, similar analyses can be used to elucidate the source, and 'age' of the below ground component undergoing heterotrophic respiration. Net (biome or ecosystem) uptake of carbon is the difference of two large fluxes: photosynthesis and respiration. Carbon fixation by photosynthesis is, to a large extent, a single process with theoretical underpinnings. On the other-hand, net ecosystem or biome respiration integrates microbial (heterotrophic) and plant (autotrophic) respiration. Eddy covariance methods can be used to estimate bulk CO{sub 2} fluxes but they cannot discriminate the process nor the source of the respired CO{sub 2}. It is these processes that are parameterized in predictive models and contribute to the uncertainty in the climate forcing effect of the carbon cycle in the future [Friedlingstein et al., 2006; Heimann and Reichstein, 2008].},
doi = {10.2172/967755},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2009},
month = {10}
}

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