Articles | Volume 9, issue 8
Biogeosciences, 9, 3357–3380, 2012

Special issue: REgional Carbon Cycle Assessment and Processes (RECCAP)

Biogeosciences, 9, 3357–3380, 2012

Research article 24 Aug 2012

Research article | 24 Aug 2012

The European land and inland water CO2, CO, CH4 and N2O balance between 2001 and 2005

S. Luyssaert1, G. Abril2, R. Andres3, D. Bastviken4, V. Bellassen1, P. Bergamaschi5, P. Bousquet1, F. Chevallier1, P. Ciais1, M. Corazza5, R. Dechow6, K.-H. Erb7, G. Etiope8, A. Fortems-Cheiney1, G. Grassi5, J. Hartmann9, M. Jung10, J. Lathière1, A. Lohila11, E. Mayorga12, N. Moosdorf9, D. S. Njakou13, J. Otto1, D. Papale14, W. Peters15, P. Peylin1, P. Raymond16, C. Rödenbeck17, S. Saarnio18, E.-D. Schulze10, S. Szopa1, R. Thompson1, P. J. Verkerk19, N. Vuichard1, R. Wang20, M. Wattenbach21, and S. Zaehle17 S. Luyssaert et al.
  • 1CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, UMR8212 – Laboratoire des sciences du climat et de l'environnement (LSCE), Orme des Merisiers, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 2Laboratoire EPOC, Environnements et Paléoenvironnements Océaniques et Continentaux, UMR5805, CNRS, Université de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France
  • 3Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6290, USA
  • 4Linköping University, The Department of Thematic Studies – Water and Environmental Studies, 586 62 Linköping, Sweden
  • 5European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Via E. Fermi 2749, 21027 Ispra (VA), Italy
  • 6Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut, Institute for Agricultural Climate Research, Bundesallee 50, 38116 Braunschweig, Germany
  • 7Alpen-Adria Universitaet Klagenfurt-Vienna-Graz, Institute of Social Ecology Vienna (SEC), Schottenfeldgasse 29, 1070 Vienna, Austria
  • 8Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Sezione Roma 2, Via Vigna Murata 605, Italy
  • 9Institute for Biogeochemistry and Marine Chemistry, KlimaCampus, University of Hamburg, Bundesstrasse 55, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
  • 10Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Biogeochemical Processes, P.O. Box 100164, 07701 Jena, Germany
  • 11Finnish Meteorological Institute, Climate Change Research, P.O. Box 503, 00101 Helsinki, Finland
  • 12University of Washington, Applied Physics Laboratory, Box 355640, Seattle, WA 98105-6698, USA
  • 13University of Antwerp, Researchgroup Plant and Vegetation Ecology, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Wilrijk, Belgium
  • 14University of Tuscia, Department for innovation in biological, agro-food and forest systems (DIBAF), Via S. Camillo de Lellis, snc- 01100 Viterbo, Italy
  • 15Wageningen University, Meteorology and Air Quality, Droevendaalsesteenweg 4, 6700 PB, Wageningen, The Netherlands
  • 16Yale University, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, 195 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511, USA
  • 17Max Planck Institute for biogeochemistry, Biogeochemical Systems Department, P.O. Box 100164, 07701 Jena, Germany
  • 18University of Eastern Finland, Department of Biology and Finnish Environment Institute, the Joensuu Office, PL 111, 80101 Joensuu, Finland
  • 19European Forest Institute, Sustainability and Climate Change Programme, Torikatu 34, 80100 Joensuu, Finland
  • 20Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • 21Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre For Geosciences, Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany

Abstract. Globally, terrestrial ecosystems have absorbed about 30% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions over the period 2000–2007 and inter-hemispheric gradients indicate that a significant fraction of terrestrial carbon sequestration must be north of the Equator. We present a compilation of the CO2, CO, CH4 and N2O balances of Europe following a dual constraint approach in which (1) a land-based balance derived mainly from ecosystem carbon inventories and (2) a land-based balance derived from flux measurements are compared to (3) the atmospheric data-based balance derived from inversions constrained by measurements of atmospheric GHG (greenhouse gas) concentrations. Good agreement between the GHG balances based on fluxes (1294 ± 545 Tg C in CO2-eq yr−1), inventories (1299 ± 200 Tg C in CO2-eq yr−1) and inversions (1210 ± 405 Tg C in CO2-eq yr−1) increases our confidence that the processes underlying the European GHG budget are well understood and reasonably sampled. However, the uncertainty remains large and largely lacks formal estimates. Given that European net land to atmosphere exchanges are determined by a few dominant fluxes, the uncertainty of these key components needs to be formally estimated before efforts could be made to reduce the overall uncertainty. The net land-to-atmosphere flux is a net source for CO2, CO, CH4 and N2O, because the anthropogenic emissions by far exceed the biogenic sink strength. The dual-constraint approach confirmed that the European biogenic sink removes as much as 205 ± 72 Tg C yr−1 from fossil fuel burning from the atmosphere. However, This C is being sequestered in both terrestrial and inland aquatic ecosystems. If the C-cost for ecosystem management is taken into account, the net uptake of ecosystems is estimated to decrease by 45% but still indicates substantial C-sequestration. However, when the balance is extended from CO2 towards the main GHGs, C-uptake by terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems is offset by emissions of non-CO2 GHGs. As such, the European ecosystems are unlikely to contribute to mitigating the effects of climate change.

Final-revised paper