Links between atmospheric carbon dioxide, the land carbon reservoir and climate over the past millennium

Bauska, Thomas K.; Joos, Fortunat; Mix, Alan C.; Roth, Raphael; Ahn, Jinho; Brook, Edward J. (2015). Links between atmospheric carbon dioxide, the land carbon reservoir and climate over the past millennium. Nature geoscience, 8(5), pp. 383-387. Nature Publishing Group 10.1038/ngeo2422

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The stability of terrestrial carbon reservoirs is thought to be closely linked to variations in climate 1, but the magnitude of carbon–climate feedbacks has proved dificult to constrain for both modern 2–4 and millennial 5–13 timescales. Reconstructions of atmospheric CO2
concentrations for the past thousand years have shown fluctuations on multidecadal to centennial timescales 5–7, but the causes of these fluctuations are unclear. Here we report high-resolution carbon isotope measurements of CO2 trapped within the ice of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide ice core for the past 1,000 years. We use a deconvolution approach 14 to show that changes in terrestrial organic carbon stores best explain the observed multidecadal variations in the 13 C of CO2 and in CO2 concentrations from
755 to 1850 CE. If significant long-term carbon emissions came from pre-industrial anthropogenic land-use changes over this interval, the emissions must have been offset by a natural terrestrial sink for 13 C-depleted carbon, such as peatlands. We find that on multidecadal timescales, carbon cycle changes seem to vary with reconstructed regional climate changes. We conclude that climate variability could be an important control
of fluctuations in land carbon storage on these timescales.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Climate and Environmental Physics
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute

UniBE Contributor:

Joos, Fortunat, Roth, Raphael


500 Science > 530 Physics
500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology




Nature Publishing Group




Monika Wälti-Stampfli

Date Deposited:

02 Jun 2015 08:18

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:47

Publisher DOI:





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