Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2021-98
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2021-98

  01 Dec 2021

01 Dec 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESD.

CO2 Surface Variability, from the Stratosphere or Not?

Michael J. Prather Michael J. Prather
  • Earth System Science Department, University of California Irvine, Irvine CA 92617 USA

Abstract. Fluctuations in atmospheric CO2 can be measured with great precision and are used to identify human-driven sources as well as natural cycles of ocean and land carbon. One source of variability is the stratosphere, where the influx of aged CO2-depleted air can produce fluctuations at the surface. This process has been speculated a potential source of interannual variability (IAV) in CO2 that might obscure the quantification of other sources of IAV. Given the recent success in demonstrating that the stratospheric influx of N2O- and chlorofluorocarbon-depleted air is a dominant source of their surface IAV in the southern hemisphere, we here apply the same model and measurement analysis to CO2. Using chemistry-transport modeling or scaling of the observed N2O variability, we find that the stratosphere-driven surface variability in CO2 is at most 10 % of the observed IAV and is not an important source. The southern hemisphere stations with multi-decadal CO2 records can provide clues to sources through the phase shifts of the IAV relative to the northern hemisphere.

Michael J. Prather

Status: open (until 19 Feb 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on esd-2021-98', Anonymous Referee #1, 05 Jan 2022 reply

Michael J. Prather

Michael J. Prather

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Short summary
Atmospheric CO2 fluctuations point to changes in fossil fuel emissions plus natural/perturbed variations in the natural carbon cycle. One un-studied source of variability is the stratosphere, where the influx of aged CO2-depleted air can cause surface fluctuations. Using modeling and, separately, scaling the observed N2O variability, we find that the stratosphere-driven surface variability in CO2 is not a significant uncertainty, at most 10 % of the observed interannual variability.
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