Increases in early season ecosystem uptake explain recent changes in the seasonal cycle of atmospheric CO2 at high northern latitudes

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Abstract

We report changes in the seasonal cycle of atmospheric CO2 at high northern latitudes from 1980 to 1997 based on NOAA/CMDL observation stations. Using a combination of biogeochemical and atmospheric modeling approaches, we show that increases in early season net ecosystem uptake explain the recent trends in the seasonal cycle. A strong year-to-year correlation between spring temperatures and early season uptake further suggests that increased photosynthetic activity is the primary mechanism. At the end of the growing season, a strong correlation between fall temperatures and late season releases provides evidence for a large active pool of decomposing soil carbon. Taken together, our results suggest that the seasonal timing of temperature anomalies may have important consequences for the interannual carbon balance of northern ecosystems.

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