Enhanced North American carbon uptake associated with El Niño

Lei Hu*, Arlyn E. Andrews, Kirk W. Thoning, Colm Sweeney, John B. Miller, Anna M. Michalak, Ed Dlugokencky, Pieter P. Tans, Yoichi P. Shiga, Marikate Mountain, Thomas Nehrkorn, Stephen A. Montzka, Kathryn McKain, Jonathan Kofler, Michael Trudeau, Sylvia E. Michel, Sébastien C. Biraud, Marc L. Fischer, Doug E.J. Worthy, Bruce H. VaughnJames W.C. White, Vineet Yadav, Sourish Basu, Ivar R. Van Der Velde

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Long-term atmospheric CO2 mole fraction and d13CO2 observations over North America document persistent responses to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. We estimate these responses corresponded to 0.61 (0.45 to 0.79) PgC year−1 more North American carbon uptake during El Niño than during La Niña between 2007 and 2015, partially offsetting increases of net tropical biosphere-to-atmosphere carbon flux around El Niño. Anomalies in derived North American net ecosystem exchange (NEE) display strong but opposite correlations with surface air temperature between seasons, while their correlation with water availability was more constant throughout the year, such that water availability is the dominant control on annual NEE variability over North America. These results suggest that increased water availability and favorable temperature conditions (warmer spring and cooler summer) caused enhanced carbon uptake over North America near and during El Niño.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberaaw0076
JournalScience advances
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2019


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