Interannual variability of atmospheric CO2 in the Mediterranean: measurements at the island of Lampedusa

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Chamard, P. ; Thiery, F. ; Sarra, A. Di ; Ciattaglia, L. ; Silvestri, L. De ; Grigioni, P. ; Monteleone, F. ; Piacentino, S. (2011)

The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases has been measured weekly since 1992 at the island of Lampedusa, in the Mediterranean sea. Lampedusa is a small island located approximately 100 km east of Tunisia, and 250 km south of Sicily. The 10-yr CO2 data set has been analysed to quantify trends, and characterize semi-annual, annual and inter-annual variability. The data show an average trend of +1.7 ppmv yr−1; the average annual cycle has an amplitude of about 9 ppmv. In the period of investigation the annual growth rate varies between 0.5 and 4.5 ppmv yr−1, and the amplitude of the annual cycle between 7 and 11 ppmv yr−1. By comparing the observed growth rate with recent estimates of carbon dioxide emissions, it is calculated that 58–61% of the emitted CO2 remains in the atmosphere. The CO2 growth rate appears to be related to large-scale dynamic phenomena, primarily El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). An evident signature of the 1997–98 El Niño is apparent in the CO2record, and corresponds to a weakening of the exchange with the biosphere. A high correlation between the global average temperature and the 12-month average carbon dioxide growth rate is also found. Wind direction displays a significant inter-annual variability throughout the measurement period, possibly influencing the observed evolution of the CO2 concentration.DOI: 10.1034/j.1600-0889.2003.00048.x
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