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Scientific Communities Striving for a Common Cause: Innovations in Carbon Cycle Science

Whelan, Mary E. and Anderegg, Leander D. L. and Badgley, Grayson and Campbell, J. Elliott and Commane, Roisin and Frankenberg, Christian and Hilton, Timothy W. and Kuai, Le and Parazoo, Nicholas and Shiga, Yoichi and Wang, Yuting and Worden, John (2020) Scientific Communities Striving for a Common Cause: Innovations in Carbon Cycle Science. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 101 (9). E1537-E1543. ISSN 0003-0007. doi:10.1175/bams-d-19-0306.1.

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Where does the carbon released by burning fossil fuels go? Currently, ocean and land systems remove about half of the CO₂ emitted by human activities; the remainder stays in the atmosphere. These removal processes are sensitive to feedbacks in the energy, carbon, and water cycles that will change in the future. Observing how much carbon is taken up on land through photosynthesis is complicated because carbon is simultaneously respired by plants, animals, and microbes. Global observations from satellites and air samples suggest that natural ecosystems take up about as much CO₂ as they emit. To match the data, our land models generate imaginary Earths where carbon uptake and respiration are roughly balanced, but the absolute quantities of carbon being exchanged vary widely. Getting the magnitude of the flux is essential to make sure our models are capturing the right pattern for the right reasons. Combining two cutting-edge tools, carbonyl sulfide (OCS) and solar-induced fluorescence (SIF), will help develop an independent answer of how much carbon is being taken up by global ecosystems. Photosynthesis requires CO₂, light, and water. OCS provides a spatially and temporally integrated picture of the “front door” of photosynthesis, proportional to CO₂ uptake and water loss through plant stomata. SIF provides a high-resolution snapshot of the “side door,” scaling with the light captured by leaves. These two independent pieces of information help us understand plant water and carbon exchange. A coordinated effort to generate SIF and OCS data through satellite, airborne, and ground observations will improve our process-based models to predict how these cycles will change in the future.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Commane, Roisin0000-0003-1373-1550
Frankenberg, Christian0000-0002-0546-5857
Kuai, Le0000-0001-6406-1150
Parazoo, Nicholas0000-0002-4424-7780
Wang, Yuting0000-0001-7756-8479
Worden, John0000-0003-0257-9549
Alternate Title:Two Scientific Communities Striving for a Common Cause: innovations in carbon cycle science
Additional Information:© 2020 American Meteorological Society. Published-online: 17 Sep 2020. We would like to thank Joseph A. Berry for being a pioneer in plant science and bringing these two communities closer together through intelligence and kindness. Part of the research described in this paper was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Group:Keck Institute for Space Studies
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Issue or Number:9
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200716-123013929
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Whelan, M. E., Anderegg, L. D. L., Badgley, G., Campbell, J. E., Commane, R., Frankenberg, C., Hilton, T. W., Kuai, L., Parazoo, N., Shiga, Y., Wang, Y., & Worden, J. (2020). Scientific Communities Striving for a Common Cause: Innovations in Carbon Cycle Science, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 101(9), E1537-E1543; DOI: 10.1175/bams-d-19-0306.1
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:104404
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:16 Jul 2020 21:14
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:31

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