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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 02 Jan 2019

Submitted as: research article | 02 Jan 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

On what scales can GOSAT flux inversions constrain anomalies in terrestrial ecosystems?

Brendan Byrne1, Dylan B. A. Jones1,2, Kimberly Strong1, Saroja M. Polavarapu3, Anna B. Harper4, David F. Baker5,6, and Shamil Maksyutov7 Brendan Byrne et al.
  • 1Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA
  • 3Climate Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 4College of Engineering, Mathematics, and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
  • 5NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Global Monitoring Division, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 6Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO, USA
  • 7Center for Global Environmental Research, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Tsukuba, Japan

Abstract. Interannual variations in temperature and precipitation impact the carbon balance of terrestrial ecosystems, leaving an imprint in atmospheric CO2. Quantifying the impact of climate anomalies on the net ecosystem exchange (NEE) of terrestrial ecosystems can provide a constraint to evaluate terrestrial biosphere models against, and may provide an emergent constraint on the response of terrestrial ecosystems to climate change. We investigate the spatial scales over which interannual variability in NEE can be constrained using atmospheric CO2 observations from the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT). NEE anomalies are calculated by performing a series of inversion analyses using the GEOS-Chem model to assimilate GOSAT observations. Monthly NEE anomalies are compared to proxies, variables which are associated with anomalies in the terrestrial carbon cycle, and to upscaled NEE estimates from FLUXCOM. Strong agreement is found in the timing of anomalies in the GOSAT flux inversions with soil temperature and FLUXCOM. Strong correlations are obtained (P < 0.05, R > RNINO3.4) in the tropics on continental and larger scales, and in the northern extratropics on sub-continental scales during the summer (R2 ≥ 0.49). These results, in addition to a series of observing system simulation experiments that were conducted, provide evidence that GOSAT flux inversions can isolate anomalies in NEE on continental and larger scales. However, in both the tropics and northern extratropics, the agreement between the inversions and the proxies/FLUXCOM is sensitive to the flux inversion configuration. Our results suggest that regional scales are likely the minimum scales that can be resolved in the tropics using GOSAT observations, but obtaining robust NEE anomaly estimates on these scales may be difficult.

Brendan Byrne et al.
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Brendan Byrne et al.
Brendan Byrne et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Spatial and temporal variations in atmospheric CO2 are driven by fluxes of CO2 at Earth's surface. Therefore, measurements of variations in atmospheric CO2 from satellites, such as the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT), inform the spatiotemporal variations in CO2 fluxes at Earth's surface. In this study, we examine how well interannual variations in CO2 surface fluxes can be estimated from GOSAT measurements. We show estimated CO2 anomalies are correlated with temperature anomalies.
Spatial and temporal variations in atmospheric CO2 are driven by fluxes of CO2 at Earth's...