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The procedure, which is analogous to estimating production and depletion rates in an oil or gas field, is summarized graphically in Figure 2, The case shown begins in 1990 (emissions from earlier year are ignored for simplicity) and uses a residence time of 10 years (for illustration purposes only): * Land use change emission estimates based on forest cover data from forest cover data from Euan Mearns which were added to the fossil fuel emissions.
(I used changes in forest cover percentage to calculate the annual tonnage of carbon emitted from deforestation, based on the current estimate of 638 billion tones of carbon contained in the world’s forests.) Now to the results.
The problem is that the estimate matches no one else’s. First, someone is going to ask why I didn’t take the carbon cycle into account, given that the amount of carbon that cycles each year between the atmosphere and land-ocean sinks overwhelms man-made carbon emissions.
in fact agree that the residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere is short.
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We can therefore assume, all other things being equal, that about half of the CO2 emitted between 17 has remained in the atmosphere and that the other half has been absorbed, either by vegetation or by the oceans.3.
“Residence time” is defined as as the time it takes for the fiftieth molecule in a pulse of 100 emitted CO2 molecules to be absorbed (in other words the half-life).
An important consideration in estimating future greenhouse warming risks is how long CO2 remains in the atmosphere.
Here I present the results of a simple mass balance model that provides a near-perfect fit between CO2 emissions and observed atmospheric CO2 using a CO2 residence time of 33 years.
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The value that gives the best fit to observed CO2 concentrations provides the best estimate of residence time.
I constructed CO2 curves using a spreadsheet algorithm that begins in 1760 and works as follows.
However, the fact that I get an excellent model-observed fit using a constant residence time suggests that the carbon cycle hasn’t changed much, if at all, since 1959.