Science research news Return to previous page
Article Released Thu-19th-November-2009 11:26 GMT
Contact: Ruth Institution: Nature Publishing Group
 Geoscience: Atmospheric carbon balance

The fraction of carbon dioxide emissions that is mopped up by terrestrial and marine sinks has probably decreased over the past 50 years.


This press release is copyrighted to Nature Geoscience.

A PDF of the paper mentioned on this release can be found in the Nature Geoscience section of


Geoscience: Atmospheric carbon balance
DOI: 10.1038/ngeo689

The fraction of carbon dioxide emissions that is mopped up by terrestrial and marine sinks has probably decreased over the past 50 years. According to an overview article published online in Nature Geoscience, models suggest that this trend is a result of climate change and climate variability, which would imply a positive feedback between climate and the carbon cycle.

Corinne Le Quere and colleagues analysed the literature on carbon dioxide sinks and sources, and found that the recent rise in carbon dioxide emissions — by 29% between 2000 and 2008 — can largely be attributed to increasing contributions from emerging economies, production and trade of manufactured products, and the use of coal as a fuel source. The amount of carbon dioxide that remains in the atmosphere and contributes to greenhouse warming has probably increased from 40% of emissions to 45% between 1959 and 2008, however, the authors caution that uncertainties are large.

The ability of the biosphere to take up atmospheric carbon dioxide could be crucial for achieving climate stabilization. The researchers therefore conclude that it is of utmost importance to reduce error margins in quantifications of terrestrial and marine carbon sinks.

Author contact:
Corinne Le Quere (University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK)
Tel: +44 1603 592840; E-mail:


For North America and Canada
Neda Afsarmanesh, Nature New York
Tel: +1 212 726 9231; E-mail:

Katie McGoldrick, Nature Washington
Tel: +1 202 737 2355; E-mail:

For Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and Taiwan
Mika Nakano, Nature Tokyo
Tel: +81 3 3267 8751; E-mail:

For the UK/Europe/other countries not listed above
Rachel Twinn, Nature London
Tel: +44 20 7843 4658; E-mail:

About Nature Publishing Group (NPG):

Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is a publisher of high impact scientific and medical information in print and online. NPG publishes journals, online databases and services across the life, physical, chemical and applied sciences and clinical medicine.

Focusing on the needs of scientists, Nature (founded in 1869) is the leading weekly, international scientific journal. In addition, for this audience, NPG publishes a range of Nature research journals and Nature Reviews journals, plus a range of prestigious academic journals including society-owned publications. Online, provides over 5 million visitors per month with access to NPG publications and online databases and services, including Nature News and NatureJobs plus access to Nature Network and Nature Education’s

Scientific American is at the heart of NPG’s newly-formed consumer media division, meeting the needs of the general public. Founded in 1845, Scientific American is the oldest continuously published magazine in the US and the leading authoritative publication for science in the general media. Together with and 15 local language editions around the world it reaches over 3 million consumers and scientists. Other titles include Scientific American Mind and Spektrum der Wissenschaft in Germany.

Throughout all its businesses NPG is dedicated to serving the scientific and medical communities and the wider scientifically interested general public. Part of Macmillan Publishers Limited, NPG is a global company with principal offices in London, New York and Tokyo, and offices in cities worldwide including Boston, Buenos Aires, Delhi, Hong Kong, Madrid, Barcelona, Munich, Heidelberg, Basingstoke, Melbourne, Paris, San Francisco, Seoul and Washington DC. For more information, please go to

Associated links

Journal information

Nature Geoscience

Keywords associated to this article:
Create Account...