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Thursday, July 28, 2011

The paper trail of the 13C of atmospheric CO2 since the industrial revolution period, by Dan Yakir, Environm. Rews. Lett., 6

Environmental Research Letters6 (2011) 034007; doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/6/3/034007

The paper trail of the 13C of atmospheric CO2 since the industrial revolution period

Dan Yakir*
Environmental Sciences and Energy Research, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel


The 13C concentration in atmospheric CO2 has been declining over the past 150 years as large quantities of 13C-depleted CO2 from fossil fuel burning are added to the atmosphere. Deforestation and other land use changes have also contributed to the trend. Looking at the 13C variations in the atmosphere and in annual growth rings of trees allows us to estimate CO2uptake by land plants and the ocean, and assess the response of plants to climate. Here I show that the effects of the declining 13C trend in atmospheric CO2 are recorded in the isotopic composition of paper used in the printing industry, which provides a well-organized archive and integrated material derived from trees' cellulose. 13C analyses of paper from two European and two American publications showed, on average, a −1.65 ± 1.00‰ trend between 1880 and 2000, compared with −1.45 and −1.57‰ for air and tree-ring analyses, respectively. The greater decrease in plant-derived 13C in the paper we tested than in the air is consistent with predicted global-scale increases in plant intrinsic water-use efficiency over the 20th century. Distinct deviations from the atmospheric trend were observed in both European and American publications immediately following the World War II period.

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