ATMOSPHERIC RADIOCARBON FOR THE PERIOD 1910-2021 RECORDED BY ANNUAL PLANTS

Mariah S. Carbone, Tina J. Ayers, Christopher H. Ebert, Seth M. Munson, Edward A.G. Schuur, Andrew D. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present a timeseries of 14CO2 for the period 1910-2021 recorded by annual plants collected in the southwestern United States, centered near Flagstaff, Arizona. This timeseries is dominated by five commonly occurring annual plant species in the region, which is considered broadly representative of the southern Colorado Plateau. Most samples (1910-2015) were previously archived herbarium specimens, with additional samples harvested from field experiments in 2015-2021. We used this novel timeseries to develop a smoothed local record with uncertainties for bomb spike 14C dating of recent terrestrial organic matter. Our results highlight the potential importance of local records, as we document a delayed arrival of the 1963-1964 bomb spike peak, lower values in the 1980s, and elevated values in the last decade in comparison to the most current Northern Hemisphere Zone 2 record. It is impossible to retroactively collect atmospheric samples, but archived annual plants serve as faithful scribes: samples from herbaria around the Earth may be an under-utilized resource to improve understanding of the modern carbon cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-374
Number of pages18
JournalRadiocarbon
Volume65
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 13 2023

Keywords

  • Anthropocene
  • Colorado Plateau
  • RITA
  • annual plants
  • atmospheric CO 2
  • bomb spike C
  • carbon cycle
  • herbarium specimens
  • southwestern United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences

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