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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-1041
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-1041
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 20 Nov 2018

Research article | 20 Nov 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP) and is expected to appear here in due course.

Atmospheric measurements of the terrestrial O2 : CO2 exchange ratio of a mid-latitude forest

Mark O. Battle1, J. William Munger2, Margaret Conley1, Eric Sofen1, Rebecca Perry1, Ryan Hart1, Zane Davis1, Jacob Scheckman1, Jayme Woogerd1, Karina Graeter1, Samuel Seekins1, Sasha David1, and John Carpenter1 Mark O. Battle et al.
  • 1Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, Bowdoin College, Brunswick ME 04011-8488 USA
  • 2School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

Abstract. Measurements of atmospheric O2 have been used to quantify large-scale fluxes of carbon between the oceans, atmosphere and land since 1992 (Keeling, 1992). With time, datasets have grown and estimates of fluxes have become more precise, but a key uncertainty in these calculations is the exchange ratio of O2 and CO2 associated with terrestrial photosynthesis and respiration. We present measurements of atmospheric O2 and CO2 collected over a six-year period from a mixed deciduous forest in central Massachusetts, USA (42.537° N, 72.171° W). Using a differential fuel-cell based instrument for O2 and a non-dispersive infrared analyzer for CO2, we analyzed an airstream collected within and ~6 m above the forest canopy. Averaged over the entire period of record, we find these two species covary with a slope of −1.058 ± 0.006 moles of O2 per mole of CO2. If we limit the data to values collected on summer days within the canopy, the slope is −1.01 ± 0.01. These are the conditions in which biotic influences are most likely to dominate, suggesting that this slope is our best estimate of αB. This result is significantly different from value of 1.1 widely used in O2-based calculations of the global carbon budget, suggesting adjustments of these O2-based flux estimates may be in order.

Mark O. Battle et al.
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Interactive discussion
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Status: closed
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Mark O. Battle et al.
Mark O. Battle et al.
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Short summary
Predictions of global warming require predictions of how much CO2 will be taken up by the oceans, how much by land plants, and how much will stay in the atmosphere. Measurements of atmospheric oxygen (O2) help with these predictions if we also know the ratio of O2 release to CO2 uptake in land plants. We have measured this ratio in a mid-latitude forest and find a lower value than the one in wide use. If correct, our results call for a modest adjustment in the global carbon budget.
Predictions of global warming require predictions of how much CO2 will be taken up by the...
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