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Contributions to accelerating atmospheric CO2 growth from economic activity, carbon intensity, and efficiency of natural sinks

Canadell, Josep G.; Le Quéré, Corinne; Raupach, Michael R.; Field, Christopher B.; Buitenhuis, Erik T.; Ciais, Philippe; Conway, Thomas J.; Gillett, Nathan P.; Houghton, R.A.; Marland, Gregg. 2007 Contributions to accelerating atmospheric CO2 growth from economic activity, carbon intensity, and efficiency of natural sinks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104 (47). 18866-18870. 10.1073/pnas.0702737104

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Abstract/Summary

The growth rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), the largest human contributor to human-induced climate change, is increasing rapidly. Three processes contribute to this rapid increase. Two of these processes concern emissions. Recent growth of the world economy combined with an increase in its carbon intensity have led to rapid growth in fossil fuel CO2 emissions since 2000: comparing the 1990s with 2000–2006, the emissions growth rate increased from 1.3% to 3.3% y −1. The third process is indicated by increasing evidence (P = 0.89) for a long-term (50-year) increase in the airborne fraction (AF) of CO2 emissions, implying a decline in the efficiency of CO2 sinks on land and oceans in absorbing anthropogenic emissions. Since 2000, the contributions of these three factors to the increase in the atmospheric CO2 growth rate have been ≈65 ± 16% from increasing global economic activity, 17 ± 6% from the increasing carbon intensity of the global economy, and 18 ± 15% from the increase in AF. An increasing AF is consistent with results of climate–carbon cycle models, but the magnitude of the observed signal appears larger than that estimated by models. All of these changes characterize a carbon cycle that is generating stronger-than-expected and sooner-than-expected climate forcing.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1073/pnas.0702737104
Programmes: BAS Programmes > Other Special Projects
ISSN: 0027-8424
Additional Keywords: airborne fraction; anthropogenic carbon emissions; carbon-climate feedback; terrestrial and ocean carbon emissions; vulnerabilities of the carbon cycle
NORA Subject Terms: Meteorology and Climatology
Atmospheric Sciences
Chemistry
Date made live: 18 Feb 2011 13:13
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/11696

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