Atmospheric Inverse Modeling

During the 1980s atmospheric monitoring programs operated by several agencies started to expand and provided an improved spatial and temporal characterization of the global-scale atmospheric CO2 concentration variations, which reflect the large-scale distribution of sources and sinks at the surface. The determination of the latter necessitates a model of the atmospheric transport that must be run in an "inverse" mode. This approach is commonly referred to as the "top-down" approach.

Most conspicuous was the recognition of a significant sink in the northern mid- to high latitudes inferred from observations of the meridional gradient of atmospheric CO2 using two- and three-dimensional atmospheric transport models (Pearman and Hyson 1980; Keeling et al. 1989; Tans et al. 1989, 1990).

The substantial extension of the monitoring network during the 1990s, together with improved atmospheric models and mathematical methods, has led to the establishment of atmospheric inverse modeling as a means to infer location, magnitude, and temporal variability of surface sources and sinks of CO2 (Enting et al. 1995; Kaminski et al. 1999; Rayner et al. 1999; Bousquet et al. 2000; Gurney et al. 2002; Rödenbeck et al. 2003).

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