Covariation of Airborne Biogenic Tracers (CO2, COS, and CO) Supports Stronger Than Expected Growing Season Photosynthetic Uptake in the Southeastern US

Nicholas C. Parazoo, Kevin W. Bowman, Bianca C. Baier, Junjie Liu, Meemong Lee, Le Kuai, Yoichi Shiga, Ian Baker, Mary E. Whelan, Sha Feng, Maarten Krol, Colm Sweeney, Benjamin R. Runkle, Elahe Tajfar, Kenneth J. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The Atmospheric Carbon Transport (ACT)-America Earth Venture mission conducted five airborne campaigns across four seasons from 2016 to 2019, to study the transport and fluxes of Greenhouse gases across the eastern United States. Unprecedented spatial sampling of atmospheric tracers (CO2, carbon monoxide [CO], carbonyl sulfide [COS]) related to biospheric processes offers opportunities to improve our qualitative and quantitative understanding of seasonal and spatial patterns of biospheric carbon uptake. Here, we examine co-variation of boundary layer enhancements of CO2, CO, and COS across three diverse regions: the crop-dominated Midwest, evergreen-dominated South, and deciduous broadleaf-dominated Northeast. To understand the biogeochemical processes controlling these tracers, we compare the observed co-variation to simulated co-variation resulting from model- and satellite- constrained surface carbon fluxes. We found indication of a common terrestrial biogenic sink of CO2 and COS and secondary production of CO from biogenic sources in summer throughout the eastern US, driven by stomatal conductance. Upper Midwest crops drive (Formula presented.) CO2 and (Formula presented.) COS depletion from early to late summer. Northeastern temperate forests drive (Formula presented.) CO2 and (Formula presented.) COS depletion in late summer. The unprecedented ACT-America flask samples uncovered evidence that southern humid temperate forests photosynthesize and absorb CO2 and COS, and emit CO precursors, deep into the growing season. Satellite- constrained carbon fluxes capture much of the observed seasonal and spatial variability, but underestimate the magnitude of net CO2 and COS depletion in the South, indicating a stronger than expected net sink of CO2 in late summer. Additional sampling of the South will more accurately constrain underlying biological processes and climate sensitivities governing southern carbon dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021GB006956
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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