Tropical nighttime warming as a dominant driver of variability in the terrestrial carbon sink

William R.L. Anderegg, Ashley P. Ballantyne, W. Kolby Smith, Joseph Majkut, Sam Rabin, Claudie Beaulieu, Richard Birdsey, John P. Dunne, Richard A. Houghton, Ranga B. Myneni, Yude Pan, Jorge Louis Sarmiento, Nathan Serota, Elena Shevliakova, Pieter Tans, Stephen Wilson Pacala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The terrestrial biosphere is currently a strong carbon (C) sink but may switch to a source in the 21st century as climate-driven losses exceed CO2-driven C gains, thereby accelerating global warming. Although it has long been recognized that tropical climate plays a critical role in regulating interannual climate variability, the causal link between changes in temperature and precipitation and terrestrial processes remains uncertain. Here, we combine atmospheric mass balance, remote sensing-modeled datasets of vegetation C uptake, and climate datasets to characterize the temporal variability of the terrestrial C sink and determine the dominant climate drivers of this variability. We show that the interannual variability of global land C sink has grown by 50-100% over the past 50 y. We further find that interannual land C sink variability is most strongly linked to tropical nighttime warming, likely through respiration. This apparent sensitivity of respiration to nighttime temperatures, which are projected to increase faster than global average temperatures, suggests that C stored in tropical forests may be vulnerable to future warming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15591-15596
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume112
Issue number51
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 22 2015

Fingerprint

Carbon Sequestration
Climate
Temperature
Respiration
Tropical Climate
Global Warming

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

Keywords

  • Asymmetrical warming
  • Carbon budget
  • Climate change
  • Climate feedback
  • Inversion model

Cite this

Anderegg, William R.L. ; Ballantyne, Ashley P. ; Smith, W. Kolby ; Majkut, Joseph ; Rabin, Sam ; Beaulieu, Claudie ; Birdsey, Richard ; Dunne, John P. ; Houghton, Richard A. ; Myneni, Ranga B. ; Pan, Yude ; Sarmiento, Jorge Louis ; Serota, Nathan ; Shevliakova, Elena ; Tans, Pieter ; Pacala, Stephen Wilson. / Tropical nighttime warming as a dominant driver of variability in the terrestrial carbon sink. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2015 ; Vol. 112, No. 51. pp. 15591-15596.
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abstract = "The terrestrial biosphere is currently a strong carbon (C) sink but may switch to a source in the 21st century as climate-driven losses exceed CO2-driven C gains, thereby accelerating global warming. Although it has long been recognized that tropical climate plays a critical role in regulating interannual climate variability, the causal link between changes in temperature and precipitation and terrestrial processes remains uncertain. Here, we combine atmospheric mass balance, remote sensing-modeled datasets of vegetation C uptake, and climate datasets to characterize the temporal variability of the terrestrial C sink and determine the dominant climate drivers of this variability. We show that the interannual variability of global land C sink has grown by 50-100{\%} over the past 50 y. We further find that interannual land C sink variability is most strongly linked to tropical nighttime warming, likely through respiration. This apparent sensitivity of respiration to nighttime temperatures, which are projected to increase faster than global average temperatures, suggests that C stored in tropical forests may be vulnerable to future warming.",
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Anderegg, WRL, Ballantyne, AP, Smith, WK, Majkut, J, Rabin, S, Beaulieu, C, Birdsey, R, Dunne, JP, Houghton, RA, Myneni, RB, Pan, Y, Sarmiento, JL, Serota, N, Shevliakova, E, Tans, P & Pacala, SW 2015, 'Tropical nighttime warming as a dominant driver of variability in the terrestrial carbon sink', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 112, no. 51, pp. 15591-15596. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1521479112

Tropical nighttime warming as a dominant driver of variability in the terrestrial carbon sink. / Anderegg, William R.L.; Ballantyne, Ashley P.; Smith, W. Kolby; Majkut, Joseph; Rabin, Sam; Beaulieu, Claudie; Birdsey, Richard; Dunne, John P.; Houghton, Richard A.; Myneni, Ranga B.; Pan, Yude; Sarmiento, Jorge Louis; Serota, Nathan; Shevliakova, Elena; Tans, Pieter; Pacala, Stephen Wilson.

In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 112, No. 51, 22.12.2015, p. 15591-15596.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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T1 - Tropical nighttime warming as a dominant driver of variability in the terrestrial carbon sink

AU - Anderegg, William R.L.

AU - Ballantyne, Ashley P.

AU - Smith, W. Kolby

AU - Majkut, Joseph

AU - Rabin, Sam

AU - Beaulieu, Claudie

AU - Birdsey, Richard

AU - Dunne, John P.

AU - Houghton, Richard A.

AU - Myneni, Ranga B.

AU - Pan, Yude

AU - Sarmiento, Jorge Louis

AU - Serota, Nathan

AU - Shevliakova, Elena

AU - Tans, Pieter

AU - Pacala, Stephen Wilson

PY - 2015/12/22

Y1 - 2015/12/22

N2 - The terrestrial biosphere is currently a strong carbon (C) sink but may switch to a source in the 21st century as climate-driven losses exceed CO2-driven C gains, thereby accelerating global warming. Although it has long been recognized that tropical climate plays a critical role in regulating interannual climate variability, the causal link between changes in temperature and precipitation and terrestrial processes remains uncertain. Here, we combine atmospheric mass balance, remote sensing-modeled datasets of vegetation C uptake, and climate datasets to characterize the temporal variability of the terrestrial C sink and determine the dominant climate drivers of this variability. We show that the interannual variability of global land C sink has grown by 50-100% over the past 50 y. We further find that interannual land C sink variability is most strongly linked to tropical nighttime warming, likely through respiration. This apparent sensitivity of respiration to nighttime temperatures, which are projected to increase faster than global average temperatures, suggests that C stored in tropical forests may be vulnerable to future warming.

AB - The terrestrial biosphere is currently a strong carbon (C) sink but may switch to a source in the 21st century as climate-driven losses exceed CO2-driven C gains, thereby accelerating global warming. Although it has long been recognized that tropical climate plays a critical role in regulating interannual climate variability, the causal link between changes in temperature and precipitation and terrestrial processes remains uncertain. Here, we combine atmospheric mass balance, remote sensing-modeled datasets of vegetation C uptake, and climate datasets to characterize the temporal variability of the terrestrial C sink and determine the dominant climate drivers of this variability. We show that the interannual variability of global land C sink has grown by 50-100% over the past 50 y. We further find that interannual land C sink variability is most strongly linked to tropical nighttime warming, likely through respiration. This apparent sensitivity of respiration to nighttime temperatures, which are projected to increase faster than global average temperatures, suggests that C stored in tropical forests may be vulnerable to future warming.

KW - Asymmetrical warming

KW - Carbon budget

KW - Climate change

KW - Climate feedback

KW - Inversion model

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