Trends in the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide

Corinne Le Quéré, Michael R. Raupach, Josep G. Canadell, Gregg Marland, Laurent Bopp, Philippe Ciais, Thomas J. Conway, Scott C. Doney, Richard A. Feely, Pru Foster, Pierre Friedlingstein, Kevin Gurney, Richard A. Houghton, Joanna I. House, Chris Huntingford, Peter E. Levy, Mark R. Lomas, Joseph Majkut, Nicolas Metzl, Jean P. OmettoGlen P. Peters, I. Colin Prentice, James T. Randerson, Steven W. Running, Jorge L. Sarmiento, Ute Schuster, Stephen Sitch, Taro Takahashi, Nicolas Viovy, Guido R. Van Der Werf, F. Ian Woodward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1538 Scopus citations


Efforts to control climate change require the stabilization of atmospheric CO 2 concentrations. This can only be achieved through a drastic reduction of global CO 2 emissions. Yet fossil fuel emissions increased by 29% between 2000 and 2008, in conjunction with increased contributions from emerging economies, from the production and international trade of goods and services, and from the use of coal as a fuel source. In contrast, emissions from land-use changes were nearly constant. Between 1959 and 2008, 43% of each year's CO 2 emissions remained in the atmosphere on average; the rest was absorbed by carbon sinks on land and in the oceans. In the past 50 years, the fraction of CO 2 emissions that remains in the atmosphere each year has likely increased, from about 40% to 45%, and models suggest that this trend was caused by a decrease in the uptake of CO 2 by the carbon sinks in response to climate change and variability. Changes in the CO 2 sinks are highly uncertain, but they could have a significant influence on future atmospheric CO 2 levels. It is therefore crucial to reduce the uncertainties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)831-836
Number of pages6
JournalNature Geoscience
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2009


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