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We combine several lines of evidence to provide a robust estimate of historical CO2 emissions from land use change. Our novel approach leads to reduced uncertainty and identifies key remaining sources of uncertainty and discrepancy. We also quantify the carbon removal by natural ecosystems that would have occurred if these ecosystems had not been destroyed (mostly via deforestation). Over the last decade, this foregone carbon sink amounted to about 50 % of the actual emissions.
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BG | Articles | Volume 17, issue 15
Biogeosciences, 17, 4075–4101, 2020
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-17-4075-2020
Biogeosciences, 17, 4075–4101, 2020
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-17-4075-2020

Research article 13 Aug 2020

Research article | 13 Aug 2020

Historical CO2 emissions from land use and land cover change and their uncertainty

Thomas Gasser et al.

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Arneth, A., Sitch, S., Pongratz, J., Stocker, B. D., Ciais, P., Poulter, B., Bayer, A. D., Bondeau, A., Calle, L., Chini, L. P., Gasser, T., Fader, M., Friedlingstein, P., Kato, E., Li, W., Lindeskog, M., Nabel, J. E. M. S., Pugh, T. A. M., Robertson, E., Viovy, N., Yue, C., and Zaehle, S.: Historical carbon dioxide emissions caused by land-use changes are possibly larger than assumed, Nat. Geosci., 10, 79, 2017. 
Barré, P., Eglin, T., Christensen, B. T., Ciais, P., Houot, S., Kätterer, T., van Oort, F., Peylin, P., Poulton, P. R., Romanenkov, V., and Chenu, C.: Quantifying and isolating stable soil organic carbon using long-term bare fallow experiments, Biogeosciences, 7, 3839–3850, https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-7-3839-2010, 2010. 
Bastos, A., Ciais, P., Barichivich, J., Bopp, L., Brovkin, V., Gasser, T., Peng, S., Pongratz, J., Viovy, N., and Trudinger, C. M.: Re-evaluating the 1940s CO2 plateau, Biogeosciences, 13, 4877–4897, https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-13-4877-2016, 2016. 
Bastos, A., Peregon, A., Gani, É. A., Khudyaev, S., Yue, C., Li, W., Gouveia, C., and Ciais, P.: The contribution of land-use change versus climate variability to the 1940s CO2 plateau: Former Soviet Union as a test case, Biogeosciences Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2017-267, 2017. 
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Short summary
We combine several lines of evidence to provide a robust estimate of historical CO2 emissions from land use change. Our novel approach leads to reduced uncertainty and identifies key remaining sources of uncertainty and discrepancy. We also quantify the carbon removal by natural ecosystems that would have occurred if these ecosystems had not been destroyed (mostly via deforestation). Over the last decade, this foregone carbon sink amounted to about 50 % of the actual emissions.
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Final-revised paper
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