Observational Contrains on the Global Atmospheric Co2 Budget

Science  23 Mar 1990:
Vol. 247, Issue 4949, pp. 1431-1438
DOI: 10.1126/science.247.4949.1431


Observed atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and data on the partial pressures of CO2 in surface ocean waters are combined to identify globally significant sources and sinks of CO2. The atmospheric data are compared with boundary layer concentrations calculated with the transport fields generated by a general circulation model (GCM) for specified source-sink distributions. In the model the observed north-south atmospheric concentration gradient can be maintained only if sinks for CO2 are greater in the Northern than in the Southern Hemisphere. The observed differences between the partial pressure of CO2 in the surface waters of the Northern Hemisphere and the atmosphere are too small for the oceans to be the major sink of fossil fuel CO2. Therefore, a large amount of the CO2 is apparently absorbed on the continents by terrestrial ecosystems.

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