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Sci Adv. 2019 Jun 5;5(6):eaaw0076. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw0076. eCollection 2019 Jun.

Enhanced North American carbon uptake associated with El Niño.

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Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado-Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA.
Global Monitoring Division, Earth System Research Laboratory, NOAA, Boulder, CO, USA.
Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford, CA, USA.
Department of Earth System Science, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.
Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Lexington, MA, USA.
Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado-Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA.
Earth and Environmental Sciences Area, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, USA.
Environmental Technologies Area, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, USA.
Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto, ON, Canada.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA.
Faculty of Science, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands.


Long-term atmospheric CO2 mole fraction and δ13CO2 observations over North America document persistent responses to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. We estimate these responses corresponded to 0.61 (0.45 to 0.79) PgC year-1 more North American carbon uptake during El Niño than during La Niña between 2007 and 2015, partially offsetting increases of net tropical biosphere-to-atmosphere carbon flux around El Niño. Anomalies in derived North American net ecosystem exchange (NEE) display strong but opposite correlations with surface air temperature between seasons, while their correlation with water availability was more constant throughout the year, such that water availability is the dominant control on annual NEE variability over North America. These results suggest that increased water availability and favorable temperature conditions (warmer spring and cooler summer) caused enhanced carbon uptake over North America near and during El Niño.

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