On error estimation in atmospheric CO2 inversions

Richard J. Engelen, A. Scott Denning, Kevin R. Gurney, K. R. Gurney, R. M. Law, A. S. Denning, P. J. Rayner, D. Baker, P. Bousquet, L. Bruhwiler, Y. H. Chen, P. Ciais, S. Fan, I. Y. Fung, M. Gloor, M. Heimarm, K. Higuchi, J. John, T. Maki, S. MaksyutovK. Masarie, P. Peylin, M. Prather, B. C. Pak, J. Sarmiento, S. Taguchi, T. Takahashi, C. W. Yuen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


This paper explores various sources of error in atmospheric CO2 synthesis inversions using global circulation models. The estimation of prior, observation, model transport, and representation errors is described, and the latter two error sources are explored in more detail. Not accounting for these errors will act as a hard constraint on the inversion and will produce incorrect solutions to the problem as is shown in some example inversions. The magnitude of these errors falls generally between about 10% and 100% in the retrieved fluxes but can be even larger. This makes it highly desirable to avoid hard constraints and apply any prior information we have about the surface fluxes as a weak constraint to the inversion problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)XXIX-XXX
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue number22
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • 0315 Atmospheric Composition and Structure: Biosphere/atmosphere interactions
  • 0322 Atmospheric Composition and Structure: Constituent sources and sinks
  • 0330 Atmospheric Composition and Structure: Geochemical cycles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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