The effect of atmospheric sulfate reductions on diffuse radiation and photosynthesis in the United States during 1995-2013
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The effect of atmospheric sulfate reductions on diffuse radiation and photosynthesis in the United States during 1995-2013
  • Published Date:

    2016

  • Source:
    Geophysical Research Letters, 43(18), 9984-9993.
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  • Description:
    Aerosol optical depth (AOD) has been shown to influence the global carbon sink by increasing the fraction of diffuse light, which increases photosynthesis over a greater fraction of the vegetated canopy. Between 1995 and 2013, U.S. SO2 emissions declined by over 70%, coinciding with observed AOD reductions of 3.0 +/- 0.6% yr(-1) over the eastern U.S. In the Community Earth System Model (CESM), these trends cause diffuse light to decrease regionally by almost 0.6% yr(-1), leading to declines in gross primary production (GPP) of 0.07% yr(-1). Integrated over the analysis period and domain, this represents 0.5 Pg C of omitted GPP. A separate upscaling calculation that used published relationships between GPP and diffuse light agreed with the CESM model results within 20%. The agreement between simulated and data-constrained upscaling results strongly suggests that anthropogenic sulfate trends have a small impact on carbon uptake in temperate forests due to scattered light.
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