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Global Biogeochemical Cycles

Biosphere model simulations of interannual variability in terrestrial 13C/12C exchange

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Abstract

[1] Previous studies suggest that a large part of the variability in the atmospheric ratio of 13CO2/12CO2originates from carbon exchange with the terrestrial biosphere rather than with the oceans. Since this variability is used to quantitatively partition the total carbon sink, we here investigate the contribution of interannual variability (IAV) in biospheric exchange to the observed atmospheric 13C variations. We use the Simple Biosphere - Carnegie-Ames-Stanford Approach biogeochemical model, including a detailed isotopic fractionation scheme, separate 12C and 13C biogeochemical pools, and satellite-observed fire disturbances. This model of 12CO2 and 13CO2 thus also produces return fluxes of 13CO2from its differently aged pools, contributing to the so-called disequilibrium flux. Our simulated terrestrial 13C budget closely resembles previously published model results for plant discrimination and disequilibrium fluxes and similarly suggests that variations in C3 discrimination and year-to-year variations in C3and C4 productivity are the main drivers of their IAV. But the year-to-year variability in the isotopic disequilibrium flux is much lower (1σ=±1.5 PgC ‰ yr−1) than required (±12.5 PgC ‰ yr−1) to match atmospheric observations, under the common assumption of low variability in net ocean CO2 fluxes. This contrasts with earlier published results. It is currently unclear how to increase IAV in these drivers suggesting that SiBCASA still misses processes that enhance variability in plant discrimination and relative C3/C4productivity. Alternatively, 13C budget terms other than terrestrial disequilibrium fluxes, including possibly the atmospheric growth rate, must have significantly different IAV in order to close the atmospheric 13C budget on a year-to-year basis.

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