Transcom 3 inversion intercomparison: Model mean results for the estimation of seasonal carbon sources and sinks

Kevin Robert Gurney, Rachel M. Law, A. Scott Denning, Peter J. Rayner, Bernard C. Pak, David Baker, Philippe Bousquet, Lori Bruhwiler, Yu Han Chen, Philippe Ciais, Inez Y. Fung, Martin Heimann, Jasmin John, Takashi Maki, Shamil Maksyutov, Philippe Peylin, Michael Prather, Shoichi Taguchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

268 Scopus citations


The TransCom 3 experiment was begun to explore the estimation of carbon sources and sinks via the inversion of simulated tracer transport. We build upon previous TransCom work by presenting the seasonal inverse results which provide estimates of carbon flux for 11 land and 11 ocean regions using 12 atmospheric transport models. The monthly fluxes represent the mean seasonal cycle for the 1992 to 1996 time period. The spread among the model results is larger than the average of their estimated flux uncertainty in the northern extratropics and vice versa in the tropical regions. In the northern land regions, the model spread is largest during the growing season. Compared to a seasonally balanced biosphere prior flux generated by the CASA model, we find significant changes to the carbon exchange in the European region with greater growing season net uptake which persists into the fall months. Both Boreal North America and Boreal Asia show lessened net uptake at the onset of the growing season with Boreal Asia also exhibiting greater peak growing season net uptake. Temperate Asia shows a dramatic springward shift in the peak timing of growing season net uptake relative to the neutral CASA flux while Temperate North America exhibits a broad flattening of the seasonal cycle. In most of the ocean regions, the inverse fluxes exhibit much greater seasonality than that implied by the ΔpCO2 derived fluxes though this may be due, in part, to misallocation of adjacent land flux. In the Southern Ocean, the austral spring and fall exhibits much less carbon uptake than implied by ΔpCO2 derived fluxes. Sensitivity testing indicates that the inverse estimates are not overly influenced by the prior flux choices. Considerable agreement exists between the model mean, annual mean results of this study and that of the previously published TransCom annual mean inversion. The differences that do exist are in poorly constrained regions and tend to exhibit compensatory fluxes in order to match the global mass constraint. The differences between the estimated fluxes and the prior model over the northern land regions could be due to the prior model respiration response to temperature. Significant phase differences, such as that in the Temperate Asia region, may be due to the limited observations for that region. Finally, differences in the boreal land regions between the prior model and the estimated fluxes may be a reflection of the timing of spring thaw and an imbalance in respiration versus photosynthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)GB1010 1-18
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbon transport
  • Inversion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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