Lagged effects regulate the inter-annual variability of the tropical carbon balance

Bloom, A. Anthony; Bowman, Kevin W.; Liu, Junjie; Konings, Alexandra G.; Worden, John R.; Parazoo, Nicholas C.; Meyer, Victoria; Reager, John T.; Worden, Helen M.; Jiang, Zhe; Quetin, Gregory R.; Smallman, T. Luke; Exbrayat, Jean-François; Yin, Yi; Saatchi, Sassan S.; Williams, Mathew; Schimel, David S.

Inter-annual variations in the tropical land carbon (C) balance are a dominant component of the global atmospheric COinline-formula2 growth rate. Currently, the lack of quantitative knowledge on processes controlling net tropical ecosystem C balance on inter-annual timescales inhibits accurate understanding and projections of land–atmosphere C exchanges. In particular, uncertainty on the relative contribution of ecosystem C fluxes attributable to concurrent forcing anomalies (concurrent effects) and those attributable to the continuing influence of past phenomena (lagged effects) stifles efforts to explicitly understand the integrated sensitivity of a tropical ecosystem to climatic variability. Here we present a conceptual framework – applicable in principle to any land biosphere model – to explicitly quantify net biospheric exchange (NBE) as the sum of anomaly-induced concurrent changes and climatology-induced lagged changes to terrestrial ecosystem C states (NBE inline-formula= NBEinline-formulaCON+NBELAG). We apply this framework to an observation-constrained analysis of the 2001–2015 tropical C balance: we use a data–model integration approach (CARbon DAta-MOdel fraMework – CARDAMOM) to merge satellite-retrieved land-surface C observations (leaf area, biomass, solar-induced fluorescence), soil C inventory data and satellite-based atmospheric inversion estimates of COinline-formula2 and CO fluxes to produce a data-constrained analysis of the 2001–2015 tropical C cycle. We find that the inter-annual variability of both concurrent and lagged effects substantially contributes to the 2001–2015 NBE inter-annual variability throughout 2001–2015 across the tropics (NBEinline-formulaCON IAV inline-formula= 80 % of total NBE IAV, inline-formularinline-formula=  0.76; NBEinline-formulaLAG IAV inline-formula= 64 % of NBE IAV, inline-formularinline-formula= 0.61), and the prominence of NBEinline-formulaLAG IAV persists across both wet and dry tropical ecosystems. The magnitude of lagged effect variations on NBE across the tropics is largely attributable to lagged effects on net primary productivity (NPP; NPPinline-formulaLAG IAV 113 % of NBEinline-formulaLAG IAV, inline-formularinline-formula=inline-formula−0.93, inline-formulap value < 0.05), which emerge due to the dependence of NPP on inter-annual variations in foliar C and plant-available Hinline-formula2O states. We conclude that concurrent and lagged effects need to be explicitly and jointly resolved to retrieve an accurate understanding of the processes regulating the present-day and future trajectory of the terrestrial land C sink.



Bloom, A. Anthony / Bowman, Kevin W. / Liu, Junjie / et al: Lagged effects regulate the inter-annual variability of the tropical carbon balance. 2020. Copernicus Publications.


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