The carbon budget of South Asia
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The source and sinks of carbon dioxide (CO sub(2)) and methane (CH sub(4)) due to anthropogenic and natural biospheric activities were estimated for the South Asian region (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka). Flux estimates were based on top-down methods that use inversions of atmospheric data, and bottom-up methods that use field observations, satellite data, and terrestrial ecosystem models. Based on atmospheric CO sub(2) inversions, the net biospheric CO sub(2) flux in South Asia (equivalent to the Net Biome Productivity, NBP) was a sink, estimated at -104 plus or minus 150 Tg C yr sup(-1) during 2007-2008. Based on the bottom-up approach, the net biospheric CO sub(2) flux is estimated to be -191 plus or minus 193 Tg C yr sup(-1) during the period of 2000-2009. This last net flux results from the following flux components: (1) the Net Ecosystem Productivity, NEP (net primary production minus heterotrophic respiration) of -220 plus or minus 186 Tg C yr sup(-1); (2) the annual net carbon flux from land-use change of -14 plus or minus 50 Tg C yr sup(-1), which resulted from a sink of -16 Tg C yr sup(-1) due to the establishment of tree plantations and wood harvest, and a source of 2 Tg C yr sup(-1) due to the expansion of croplands; (3) the riverine export flux from terrestrial ecosystems to the coastal oceans of +42.9 Tg C yr sup(-1); and (4) the net CO sub(2) emission due to biomass burning of +44.1 plus or minus 13.7 Tg C yr sup(-1). Including the emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels of 444 Tg C yr sup(-1) for the 2000s, we estimate a net CO sub(2) land–atmosphere flux of 297 Tg C yr sup(-1). In addition to CO sub(2), a fraction of the sequestered carbon in terrestrial ecosystems is released to the atmosphere as CH sub(4). Based on bottom-up and top-down estimates, and chemistry-transport modeling, we estimate that 37 plus or minus 3.7 Tg C yr sup(-1) were released to atmosphere from South Asia during the 2000s. Taking all CO sub(2) and CH sub(4) fluxes together, our best estimate of the net land–atmosphere CO sub(2)-equivalent flux is a net source of 334 Tg C yr sup(-1) for the South Asian region during the 2000s. If CH sub(4) emissions are weighted by radiative forcing of molecular CH sub(4), the total CO sub(2)-equivalent flux increases to 1148 Tg C yr sup(-1) suggesting there is great potential of reducing CH sub(4) emissions for stabilizing greenhouse gases concentrations.
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