PerspectiveAtmospheric Science

A Hyperventilating Biosphere

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Science  06 Sep 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6150, pp. 1075-1076
DOI: 10.1126/science.1242004

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In the Northern Hemisphere, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere oscillate regularly over the course of each year (see the figure). This “breathing” occurs because CO2 declines in the atmosphere during the growing season, when CO2 uptake via photosynthesis exceeds the release from microbial respiration, and increases during the rest of the year, when release exceeds uptake. On page 1085 of this issue, Graven et al. (1) present evidence that the breathing rate has accelerated greatly over the past 50 years.