Received: 09 Aug 2012 – Accepted for review: 01 Sep 2012 – Discussion started: 12 Sep 2012
Abstract. We present a method for translating modeled terrestrial net ecosystem exchange (NEE) fluxes of carbon into the corresponding seasonal cycles in atmospheric CO2. The method is based on the pulse-response functions from the Transcom 3 Level 2 (T3L2) atmospheric tracer transport model (ATM) intercomparison. The new pulse-response method is considerably faster than a full forward ATM simulation, allowing CO2 seasonal cycles to be computed in seconds, rather than the days or weeks required for a forward simulation. Further, the results provide an estimate of the range of transport uncertainty across 13 different ATMs associated with the translation of surface NEE fluxes into an atmospheric signal. We evaluate the method against the results of archived forward ATM simulations from T3L2. The latter are also used to estimate the uncertainties associated with oceanic and fossil fuel influences. We present a regional breakdown at selected monitoring sites of the contribution to the atmospheric CO2 cycle from the 11 different T3L2 land regions. A test case of the pulse-response code, forced by NEE fluxes from the Community Land Model, suggests that for many terrestrial models, discrepancies between model results and observed atmospheric CO2 cycles will be large enough to clearly transcend ATM uncertainties.
How to cite. Nevison, C. D., Baker, D. F., and Gurney, K. R.: A methodology for estimating seasonal cycles of atmospheric CO2 resulting from terrestrial net ecosystem exchange (NEE) fluxes using the Transcom T3L2 pulse-response functions, Geosci. Model Dev. Discuss., 5, 2789–2809, https://doi.org/10.5194/gmdd-5-2789-2012, 2012.