The terrestrial biosphere as a net source of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere
Michalak, Anna M.
Canadell, Josep G.
Huntzinger, Deborah N.
Gurney, Kevin R.
Dlugokencky, Edward J.
Melillo, Jerry M.
Prinn, Ronald G.
Schwalm, Christopher R.
Wofsy, Steven C.
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The terrestrial biosphere can release or absorb the greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) and therefore plays an important role in regulating atmospheric composition and climate1. Anthropogenic activities such as land use change, agricultural and waste management have altered terrestrial biogenic greenhouse gas fluxes and the resulting increases in methane and nitrous oxide emissions in particular can contribute to climate warming2,3. The terrestrial biogenic fluxes of individual greenhouse gases have been studied extensively4-6, but the net biogenic greenhouse gas balance as a result of anthropogenic activities and its effect on the climate system remains uncertain. Here we use bottom-up (BU: e.g., inventory, statistical extrapolation of local flux measurements, process-based modeling) and top-down (TD: atmospheric inversions) approaches to quantify the global net biogenic greenhouse gas balance between 1981-2010 as a result of anthropogenic activities and its effect on the climate system. We find that the cumulative warming capacity of concurrent biogenic CH4 and N2O emissions is about a factor of 2 larger than the cooling effect resulting from the global land CO2 uptake in the 2000s. This results in a net positive cumulative impact of the three GHGs on the planetary energy budget, with a best estimate of 3.9±3.8 Pg CO2 eq/yr (TD) and 5.4±4.8 Pg CO2 eq/yr (BU) based on the GWP 100 metric (global warming potential on a 100-year time horizon). Our findings suggest that a reduction in agricultural CH4 and N2O emissions in particular in Southern Asia may help mitigate climate change.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2015. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Nature Publishing Group for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Nature 531 (2016): 225-228, doi:10.1038/nature16946.
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