The European <tex>$CO_{2}$</tex>, CO, <tex>$CH_{4}$</tex> and <tex>$N_{2}O$</tex> balance between 2001 and 2005The European <tex>$CO_{2}$</tex>, CO, <tex>$CH_{4}$</tex> and <tex>$N_{2}O$</tex> balance between 2001 and 2005
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Research group
Plant and Vegetation Ecology (PLECO)
Publication type
Source (journal)
Biogeosciences discussions
9(2012):2, p. 2005-2053
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
University of Antwerp
Globally, terrestrial ecosystems have absorbed about 30% of anthropogenic emissions over the period 200072007 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 balance 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 confronted with (3) the atmospheric-based balance derived from inversion informed by measurements of atmospheric GHG concentrations. Good agreement between the GHG balances based on fluxes (1249 ± 545 Tg C in CO2-eq y−1), inventories (1299 ± 200 Tg C in CO2-eq y−1) and inversions (1210 ± 405 Tg C in CO2-eq y−1) increases our confidence that current European GHG balances are accurate. However, the uncertainty remains large and largely lacks formal estimates. Given that European net land-atmosphere balances 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 dual-constraint approach confirmed that the European land surface, including inland waters and urban areas, is a net source for CO2, CO, CH4 and N2O. However, for all ecosystems except croplands, C uptake exceeds C release and us such 210 ± 70 Tg C y−1 from fossil fuel burning is removed from the atmosphere and sequestered in both terrestrial and inland aquatic ecosystems. If the C cost for ecosystem management is taken into account, the net uptake of ecosystems was estimated to decrease by 45% but still indicates substantial C-sequestration. Also, when the balance is extended from CO2 towards the main GHGs, C-uptake by terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems is compensated for by emissions of GHGs. As such the European ecosystems are unlikely to contribute to mitigating the effects of climate change.
Full text (open access)