Carbon
Dioxide Sink 1970-2000 by Docent (env.sci.),
Dr. Tech.
SUMMARY In 1992, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), presented a group of emission scenarios for different greenhouse gases. A "mid-range" emission scenario was called IS92a. However, due to limited fossil fuel reserves, IS92a seems exaggerated when looking 100 years into the future. Numerous new emission scenarios, higher and lower than IS92a, have been created recently. In order to predict future atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, emission scenarios may be inserted into computerized global carbon dioxide models. For IS92a, the IPCC claims that the atmospheric concentration would increase from today's value of 369 ppm (ppm=parts per million by volume) to 705 ppm in the year 2100. This is possible only if the rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide increase would very soon begin to increase from today's value of 1.5 ppm/year up to 4 ppm/year. In reality, the increase rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide has, despite the substantial increase of carbon dioxide emissions, remained on a very stable level during the recent 30 years. In fact, the airborne fraction, or the portion of the yearly emissions that stays in the atmosphere, has decreased from 52% in the year 1970 to 39% today. The IPCC model using IS92a implies however a nearly constant future airborne fraction. In this report it is shown that the IPCC carbon dioxide model gives exaggerated future carbon dioxide concentrations for given emissions probably due to underestimation of the sensitivity of the carbon sink flow rate to enhanced atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. Abstract Data for anthropogenic emissions and atmospheric concentrations for the period 1970-2000 were analyzed by statistical methods. The net sink flow rate of carbon dioxide to the oceans and to the biosphere was found to be strongly dependent on the atmospheric concentration. A pre-industrial value of 275 ppm could be estimated by using statistical data from 1970-2000 only and assuming zero sink flow rate. This pre-industrial value obtained is close to 280 ppm obtained by ice core measurements. A statistical mass transfer model created in this report together with the emission scenario IS92a, gives an atmospheric concentration of 557 ppm for the year 2100, or an increase of 188 ppm for the next hundred years. The IPCC gives 705 ppm for the same emission scenario or an increase by 336 ppm during the next hundred years. The statistical analysis gives a 148 ppm smaller increase than IPCC gives for the same emission scenario. The IPCC predictions seem therefore to be exaggerated to a great extent.
Introduction During the pre-industrial era the
atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration has been stable When carbon dioxide is emitted from fossil fuels, cement production, or deforestation, the increased partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will force an increase of the absorption rate and thus a net sink flow of carbon to the backmixed surface layer of the oceans and to the biosphere. Today, the total anthropogenic
carbon emission flow rate is probably about 6.8 GtC/a from
fossil fuels and cement production IPCC/TAR The oceanic sink has, according to computerized model calculations, increased from 2.0 GtC/a to 2.4 GtC/a in ten years. The uncertainty of the atmospheric accumulation rate
is only ± 0.1 GtC/a, but the uncertainty of
the emission and absorption rates are as high as about ± 0.5 GtC/a for each number As the diffusional mass transfer from the backmixed surface to deep ocean water is slow, the continuous increase of the carbon content of the backmixed surface layer of the ocean will increase the equilibrium partial pressure at the boundary layer of the ocean, thus reducing the enhancing effect of the increased atmospheric concentration on the mass transfer rate from the air to the ocean. On the other hand, the diffusional mass transfer rate from the surface layer to the deep ocean will also increase due to an increase of the concentration gradient. However, if the diffusion to the deep layers is assumed to be a very slow transient process following Fick's second law of diffusion (absorbed carbon dioxide continuously reduces the otherwise increasing gradient), most carbon dioxide modelers produce results that are not very far from a proportional relationship between the anthropogenic emission flow rate and the net absorption flow rate. In other words, the ocean surface-atmosphere-biosphere system would behave as a huge back-mixed batch, and the airborne fraction, or the portion of the emitted carbon dioxide that stays in the atmosphere, would not be very far from constant if these models have a correct structure. The airborne fraction would, according to these models, change only for a significant change in the emission rate, a high emission value giving a high airborne fraction, and a low emission value a low value of the airborne fraction respectively. Analysis of radioactive carbon in
the ocean water is also used to calculate the mass transfer coefficients
in Fick's second law of diffusion If the bulk of deep ocean
water has a carbon dioxide concentration corresponding to an equilibrium
pre-industrial atmospheric level of, say 280 ppm, and the atmospheric
concentration, Models for the biospheric uptake
of carbon dioxide describe the carbon dioxide fertilization of plants
that is dependent on the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration (Holian 1998).The question of how sensible the total sink flow rate including the `balancing term' really is for the atmospheric concentration is essential if the models should be used to calculate the future atmospheric concentration for different emission scenarios. A small difference in both the oceanic and the biospheric model structure will give a large difference in the prediction. Most global carbon dioxide models have very low sensitivity for the partial pressure on the oceanic uptake, and a quite large balancing term that is not controlled by the partial pressure in the biospheric model. This means that these models may give results that are quite close to a "constant airborne fraction" mechanism and thus a quite high value for the future atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide. Holian
The emission scenario IS92a and the "Bern" model Predicting future emissions of
anthropogenic carbon dioxide is impossible. Therefore different
scenarios must be used. The most commonly used is the IS92a
"mid-range scenario" for total anthropogenic emissions (fossil + deforestation)
of the IPCC During the next hundred years, about 1,400 GtC of anthropogenic carbon will, according to IS92a, be emitted as carbon dioxide. This number can be compared to the fact that most estimations of the known and hypothetical global fossil fuel reserve (coal, gas and oil) give values around 1,300 GtC. There will, according to IS92a, be
no future shortage of fossil fuels, and no significant substitution of
fossil fuels by other energy sources. The world economy and population numbers will develop roughly in the same way as before.
Gerholm The "Bern" carbon cycle
model
2050: atmospheric carbon dioxide
concentration
= 503 ppm A further investigation of the presented curve shows that it is a parabola segment. The time-dependent airborne
fraction, where m t)
is the time-dependent anthropogenic carbon emission. We now consider a
time period starting from the year 2000 and obtain from Equation (I)
the increase of atmospheric carbon after 2000 due to anthropogenic
emissions according to:where D (II) is valid only if A remains on a
constant value and can be taken out of the integral._{f}The atmospheric carbon content, t),
can be calculated by adding the carbon increase after 2000 to the carbon
content for the year 2000 according to:where D
For IS92a the emission
curve is close to linear with a mean slope of
which after integration gives a parabolic expression The relation between the
atmospheric carbon content and the carbon dioxide concentration can be
denoted D C and has a numerical value of
2.123 GtC/ppm. The final equation for calculating the future carbon
dioxide concentration from a constant airborne fraction and a linear
emission increase can be written according to:Using the initial values
h=0.114
for IS92a, the future concentrations can be calculated for different
values of the airborne fraction.Using Inserting Inserting We obtain using
It is a strange fact that the curve obtained by the computerized "Bern" model can be reproduced from the emission scenario IS92a simply by using a constant value of 0.5 for the airborne fraction. As will be shown later, the airborne fraction has however decreased from 52 % in 1970 to 36 % in 2000 for an emission curve that is very close to IS92a.
Anthropogenic carbon emissions 1970-2000 According to a report from Woods
Hole Research Center The global emissions of carbon
dioxide from fossil fuels and cement production has increased from 4.3
GtC/a in the year 1970 to 6.8 GtC/a today We obtain therefore a linear relationship between time and total anthropogenic emissions for 1970-2000: where b= 5.671 GtC/a,_{0}
b= 0.0977 GtC/a_{1}
^{2}, andDt = (t/a-1970) a.A linear extrapolation into the future gives an emission rate of 18.37 GtC/a for the year 2100 or a smaller number than IS92a (20 GtC/a). The IS92a can thus be considered as a kind of "exaggerated business as usual" (BAU) emission scenario, the emissions increase considerably faster during the next 100 years than during the recent 30 years.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration 1970-2000 The measured atmospheric
concentration of carbon dioxide at Mauna Loa The quadratic term, that
would have been a sign of a constant airborne fraction for a linear
increase of emissions, did not significantly improve the correlation.
Despite of that I will later discuss the result of the parabolic curve
fit. The exponential curve fit was slightly better than the linear fit,
but the statistical significance of bending the curve is still
questionable.The exponential equation can be written according to: where the parameters are:
p = 0.431 (percentage increase per year),The linear trend was 1.484 ppm/a. These findings are
in very good agreement with Hansen A "business as usual" exponential extrapolation of the carbon dioxide concentration into the future can now be calculated. For the year 2100 we obtain 567
ppm by inserting
By derivation of the exponential Equation (2) we can smooth the yearly increase rates from stochastic noise according to: Inserting the regression coefficients shows that the rate of increase has risen from 1.39 ppm/a in the year 1970 to 1.59 ppm/a in the year 2000.
The net sink flow rate and the airborne fraction 1970-2000 The net sink flow rate, The airborne fraction, Using the regression coefficients we can create the following table for the period 1970-2000:
It is obvious that the airborne fraction has decreased and the decrease is statistically significant for the given emissions and concentrations. The airborne fraction has decreased from 52 % to 39 % during the period. If we consider emissions by fossil fuels and cement production only, the airborne fraction has decreased from 69 % to 49 %.
The significant decrease of the airborne fraction 1970-2000 for recent linear increase of emissions is not in agreement with an assumption of a constant airborne fraction for future linear increase of emissions. In order to be sure that the airborne fraction really has decreased, the airborne fraction was also calculated from the parabolic curve fit for the atm. concentration 1970-2000 The second order coefficient was not large enough to cause a constant value of the airborne fraction, the value decreased from 48% to 42%. Many possible physical mechanisms can be suggested for the increase of the sink flow rate and the decrease of the airborne fraction. A logical explanation would be the direct diffusional forcing of the absorption to both oceans and biosphere caused by the increased atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide. According to Fick's first law
of diffusion, the net sink flow would be a linear function of the
difference between the actual partial pressure (or concentration, where where k,
_{2}k are_{3}, .... considered for example as the mass
transfer coefficients air-backmixed surface, backmixed surface-deep
water a.s.o. In Equation (6), k is however only an overall
statistically calculated mass transfer parameter involving the mass
transfer both to the oceans and to the biosphere due to carbon dioxide
fertilizing and other possible effects.A statistical analysis for the period 1970-2000 gives the best fit for:
Estimated sink flow values by Equation (6) are shown in the last column of Table 1. They are almost identical with to the "measured" values. The obtained regression coefficient 275.5 ppm simply means that the sink flow rate is zero for that atmospheric concentration and that the system is in equilibrium. This result is not very surprising: Data from 1970-2000 indicates that the pre-industrial concentration should about 275.5 ppm, which is, considering the standard deviation of the calculation, not significantly far from the number 280 ppm that has been obtained from ice core analysis.
In order to do a prediction for
the future, we must assume that the sink flow mechanism according to
Equation (6) that has been valid for the recent 30 years will be valid
in the future too. We must also define a new time parameter or D If atmosphere+sink = emitted or atmosphere=emitted-sink (7)
We can then create a differential equation, a "statistical mass transfer model", for calculation of the atmospheric concentration from given emissions according to:
If the emission scenario t) is given numerically, Equation (9) can be solved numerically
giving the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide for the next
century.But if the emission scenario is a linear function of time, there is a simple analytical solution of the equation also. We denote the emissions in the
year 2000 by and the yearly increase
(or decrease if negative) of emissions by h (GtC/a^{2}).
We also use DmD_{a}/C = 2.123 GtC/ppm and the
atmospheric concentration of 369 ppm for the year 2000 as boundary
conditions. The solution of the differential equation is:Calculated results are shown in Table 2:
Table 2.
If all emissions are stopped today, Equation (10) shows that the atmospheric concentration would start to sink exponentially towards 275.5 ppm, reaching 282 ppm after 100 years. Calculations with the statistical mass transfer model and IS92a gives 557 ppm after 100 years for the emission scenario IS92a when IPCC gives aa concentration of 705 ppm . Interestingly, inserting IS92a in Equation (10) gives about the same result as an exponential extrapolation of the current concentration trend.
The parabolic (second order) curve fit for the atmospheric concentrations 1970-2000 gives, extrapolated to 2100, an atmospheric concentration of 610 ppm that still is a low value. Dietze
The WEC/IIASA and IPCC/TAR B2 scenario The WEC/IIASA scenario from 1995
ends up with an anthropogenic emission rate of 14 GtC/a in the year
2100. It is based on the assumption that the efficiency of carbon use
will continue to increase as it has done for the last 150 years, a
reasonable assumption ( Inserting this scenario in
Equation (10) gives
The difference between the
"Bern" model and Equation (10) is 113 ppm for the year 2100.
A chemical ocean equilibrium calculation to 2050 for IS92a emissions without deforestation and biospheric sink Westerlund
The system is in chemical
equilibrium 1960-2000 for an equivalent ocean layer thickness of 290
meters that gives an increase to 369 ppm if 204.8 GtC (emitted from fossil fuels and cement production
according to The value 290 m is not a real measure of the thickness of the backmixed layer, but a measure of the amount of water (all of the backmixed + a part of the less backmixed) that will give equilibrium for the batch calculation. A calculation of how an even larger amount of carbon dioxide added to the system influences the atmospheric concentration proceeds in the following way: A reference state for the ocean surface, 290 m thick is calculated that is in balance with the atmosphere in 1960. This gives an initial amount of carbon in the gas-liquid batch. Then a new total amount of carbon (the amount 1960 + emissions since 1960) is entered into the air-water batch, and the new equilibrium situation is calculated. This calculation is far from trivial and involves a numerical solution of the pH. IS92a cumulative emissions minus the integrated deforestation contribution gives after integration that 482 GtC should be added to the carbon content of the water-gas batch after 2000, or 687 for the whole period 1960-2050
The ocean calculation gives an atmospheric equilibrium concentration for the year 2050 of 494 ppm. But the "real future concentration for IS92a" must be considerably lower (Equation 10 gives 462 ppm) for two reasons:
It is therefore not suitable to extend the Westerlund further into the future. The obtained concentration 494 ppm should be considered as a maximum limit value for 2050 and IS92a. Equation (10) gives 458 ppm for 2050 and IS92a and one could claim that the Westerlund calculation gives support to that value. The results by the Westerlund model are shown in Table 3.
Emission of sulfur
.000 Gton S Table 3.
Conclusions The concentration forced sink flow
rate has increased during the recent decades. Calculations with both a
statistical mass-transfer model and an ocean equilibrium model indicate
that the biospheric sink flow is more sensitive for the atmospheric
concentration than recently believed which also have been noted by other
researchers IS92a is however hardly possible as it means that nearly all known and hypothetical fossil fuel reserves would be destroyed within only 100 years.
References
http://www.wuerzburg.de/mm-physik/klima/cmodel.htm
Notation
bregression incercept GtC a_{0} ^{-1
}b regression coefficient GtC a_{1}^{-2
}C atmospheric
carbon dioxide concentration ppmvC regression coefficient ppmv_{0}Cregression coefficient ppmv_{eq} Fanthropogenic carbon emissions GtC a_{em} ^{-1
}h increase
rate for emissions GtC a^{-2
}k regression
coefficient GtC a^{-1} ppmv^{--1
}memitted carbon GtC a_{em} ^{-1
}mcarbon content of atmopshere GtC_{a} p
percentage increase rate %t time
a |

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