Understanding carbon (C) dynamics from ecosystem to global scales remains a challenge. Although expansion of global carbon dioxide (CO2) observatories makes it possible to estimate C-cycle processes from ecosystem to global scales, these estimates do not necessarily agree. At the continental US scale, only 5% of C fixed through photosynthesis remains as net ecosystem exchange (NEE), but ecosystem measurements indicate that only 2% of fixed C remains in grasslands, whereas as much as 30% remains in needleleaf forests. The wet and warm Southeast has the highest gross primary productivity and the relatively wet and cool Midwest has the highest NEE, indicating important spatial mismatches. Newly available satellite and atmospheric data can be combined in innovative ways to identify potential C loss pathways to reconcile these spatial mismatches. Independent datasets compiled from terrestrial and aquatic environments can now be combined to advance C-cycle science across the land–water interface.