Earth Syst. Sci. Data Discuss., 5, 1107-1157, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in ESSD.
The global carbon budget 1959–2011
C. Le Quéré1, R. J. Andres2, T. Boden2, T. Conway3, R. A. Houghton4, J. I. House5, G. Marland6, G. P. Peters7, G. van der Werf8, A. Ahlström9, R. M. Andrew7, L. Bopp10, J. G. Canadell11, P. Ciais10, S. C. Doney12, C. Enright1, P. Friedlingstein13, C. Huntingford14, A. K. Jain15, C. Jourdain1,*, E. Kato16, R. F. Keeling17, K. Klein Goldewijk25, S. Levis18, P. Levy14, M. Lomas19, B. Poulter10, M. R. Raupach11, J. Schwinger20, S. Sitch21, B. D. Stocker22, N. Viovy10, S. Zaehle23, and N. Zeng24
1Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK
2Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA
3National Oceanic & Atmosphere Administration, Earth System Research Laboratory (NOAA/ESRL), Boulder, Colorado 80305, USA
4Woods Hole Research Centre (WHRC), Falmouth, Massachusetts 02540, USA
5Cabot Institute, Dept of Geography, University of Bristol, UK
6Research Institute for Environment, Energy, and Economics, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina 28608, USA
7Center for International Climate and Environmental Research – Oslo (CICERO), Norway
8Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
9Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University, Sweden
10Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, CE Orme des Merisiers, 91191 Gif sur Yvette Cedex, France
11Global Carbon Project, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Canberra, Australia
12Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA
13College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, EX4 4QF, UK
14Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), Wallingford, OX10 8BB, UK
15Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois, USA
16Center for Global Environmental Research (CGER), National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES), Japan
17University of California, San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California 92093-0244, USA
18National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, Colorado, USA
19Centre for Terrestrial Carbon Dynamics (CTCD), Sheffield University, UK
20Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen & Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
21College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, EX4 4RJ, UK
22Physics Institute, and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Switzerland
23Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie, P.O. Box 600164, Hans-Knöll-Str. 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
24Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Maryland, USA
25PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague/Bilthoven, The Netherlands
*now at: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome, Italy

Abstract. Accurate assessment of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and their redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and terrestrial biosphere is important to better understand the global carbon cycle, support the climate policy process, and project future climate change. Present-day analysis requires the combination of a range of data, algorithms, statistics and model estimates and their interpretation by a broad scientific community. Here we describe datasets and a methodology developed by the global carbon cycle science community to quantify all major components of the global carbon budget, including their uncertainties. We discuss changes compared to previous estimates, consistency within and among components, and methodology and data limitations. Based on energy statistics, we estimate that the global emissions of CO2 from fossil fuel combustion and cement production were 9.5 ± 0.5 PgC yr−1 in 2011, 3.0 percent above 2010 levels. We project these emissions will increase by 2.6% (1.9–3.5%) in 2012 based on projections of Gross World Product and recent changes in the carbon intensity of the economy. Global net CO2 emissions from Land-Use Change, including deforestation, are more difficult to update annually because of data availability, but combined evidence from land cover change data, fire activity in regions undergoing deforestation and models suggests those net emissions were 0.9 ± 0.5 PgC yr−1 in 2011. The global atmospheric CO2 concentration is measured directly and reached 391.38 ± 0.13 ppm at the end of year 2011, increasing 1.70 ± 0.09 ppm yr−1 or 3.6 ± 0.2 PgC yr−1 in 2011. Estimates from four ocean models suggest that the ocean CO2 sink was 2.6 ± 0.5 PgC yr−1 in 2011, implying a global residual terrestrial CO2 sink of 4.1 ± 0.9 PgC yr−1. All uncertainties are reported as ±1 sigma (68% confidence assuming Gaussian error distributions that the real value lies within the given interval), reflecting the current capacity to characterise the annual estimates of each component of the global carbon budget. This paper is intended to provide a baseline to keep track of annual carbon budgets in the future.

All carbon data presented here can be downloaded from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (doi:10.3334/CDIAC/GCP_V2012).

Citation: Le Quéré, C., Andres, R. J., Boden, T., Conway, T., Houghton, R. A., House, J. I., Marland, G., Peters, G. P., van der Werf, G., Ahlström, A., Andrew, R. M., Bopp, L., Canadell, J. G., Ciais, P., Doney, S. C., Enright, C., Friedlingstein, P., Huntingford, C., Jain, A. K., Jourdain, C., Kato, E., Keeling, R. F., Klein Goldewijk, K., Levis, S., Levy, P., Lomas, M., Poulter, B., Raupach, M. R., Schwinger, J., Sitch, S., Stocker, B. D., Viovy, N., Zaehle, S., and Zeng, N.: The global carbon budget 1959–2011, Earth Syst. Sci. Data Discuss., 5, 1107-1157, doi:10.5194/essdd-5-1107-2012, 2012.
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