North American carbon dioxide sources and sinks: Magnitude, attribution, and uncertainty

Anthony W. King, Daniel J. Hayes, Deborah N. Huntzinger, Tristram O. West, Wilfred M. Post

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


North America is both a source and sink of atmospheric carbon dioxide CO2. Continental sources - such Abstract: fossil-fuel combustion in the US and deforestation in Mexico - and sinks - including most ecosystems, and particularly secondary forests - add and remove CO2 from the atmosphere, respectively. Photosynthesis converts CO2 into carbon as biomass, which is stored in vegetation, soils, and wood products. However, ecosystem sinks compensate for only ∼35% of the continent's fossil-fuel-based CO2 emissions; North America therefore represents a net CO2 source. Estimating the magnitude of ecosystem sinks, even though the calculation is confounded by uncertainty as a result of individual inventory- and model-based alternatives, has improved through the use of a combined approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)512-519
Number of pages8
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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