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Journal Article

A comprehensive global three-dimensional model of δ18O in atmospheric CO2: 2. Mapping the atmospheric signal


Knorr,  W.
Department Biogeochemical Synthesis, Prof. C. Prentice, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Cuntz, M., Ciais, P., Hoffmann, G., Allison, C. E., Francey, R. J., Knorr, W., et al. (2003). A comprehensive global three-dimensional model of δ18O in atmospheric CO2: 2. Mapping the atmospheric signal. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 108(D17), 4528. doi:10.1029/2002JD003154.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000E-D021-0
[1] We have modeled the distribution of delta(18)O in atmospheric CO2 with a new comprehensive global three-dimensional model. We have focused in this study on the seasonal cycle and the meridional gradient in the atmosphere. The model has been compared with a data set of delta(18)O-CO2, which merges measurements made by different laboratories, with allowance for recently elucidated calibration biases. The model compares well with the seasonal cycle of CO2, but advances the measured delta(18)O-CO2 seasonal cycle by two months. The calculated seasonal amplitude is typically 2/3 of the measured value, but the sensitivity to uncertainties in the input parameter set is such that a range of amplitudes over a factor of 3 is accommodated. Unlike the case for the amplitude, the sensitivity analyses demonstrate that the modeled phase of the seasonal cycle and the north-south gradient are practically unaffected by uncertainty in the parameter set. The north-south gradient comes, on the one hand, from the disequilibrium of the delta(18)O-CO2 isofluxes at every grid point and, on the other hand, from rectification gradients, a covariance of the varying delta(18)O-CO2 source with the atmospheric transport. The model exhibits a very strong rectification gradient that can lead to a misinterpretation of the measurements compared to the model. We therefore restrict comparison to the latitudinal means of only ocean grid cells with measurements from stations sampling the marine boundary layer. Assimilation and respiration are the determining factors of the seasonal cycle and the north-south gradient of delta(18)O-CO2. In a number of sensitivity studies we have explored the range of possible processes affecting the simulated seasonal cycle and hemispheric gradient. None of these processes contributed significantly to improve the model-observation mismatch. The contribution of assimilation and respiration to the total signal does change significantly in the sensitivity studies, but, because of feedback processes, they change in such a way that the overall response of the model is only marginally altered. In particular, prescribing delta(18)O-H2O soil values to monthly means of rain does not significantly change the modeled signal, either in the seasonal cycle or in the meridional gradient. This highlights the need to accurately model assimilation and respiration in order to understand delta(18)O in atmospheric CO2.