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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

Climate drivers of the terrestrial carbon cycle variability in Europe

Messori, G.; Ruiz-Perez, G.; Manzoni, S.; Vico, G.


The terrestrial biosphere is a key component of the global carbon cycle and is heavily influenced by climate. Climate variability can be diagnosed through metrics ranging from individual environmental variables, to collections of variables, to the so-called climate modes of variability. Similarly, the impact of a given climate variation on the terrestrial carbon cycle can be described using several metrics, including vegetation indices, measures of ecosystem respiration and productivity and net biosphere-atmosphere fluxes. The wide range of temporal (from sub-daily to paleoclimatic) and spatial (from local to continental and global) scales involved requires a scale-dependent investigation of the interactions between the carbon cycle and climate. However, a comprehensive picture of the physical links and correlations between climate drivers and carbon cycle metrics at different scales remains elusive, framing the scope of this contribution. Here, we specifically explore how climate variability metrics (from single variables to complex indices) relate to the variability of the carbon cycle at sub-daily to interannual scales (i.e. excluding long-term trends). The focus is on the interactions most relevant to the European terrestrial carbon cycle. We underline the broad areas of agreement and disagreement in the literature, and conclude by outlining some existing knowledge gaps and by proposing avenues for improving our holistic understanding of the role of climate drivers in modulating the terrestrial carbon cycle.


carbon cycle; climate; Europe; vegetation; soil

Published in

Environmental Research Letters
2019, Volume: 14, number: 6, article number: 063001

    SLU Authors

      • Manzoni, Stefano

        • Stockholm University
      • UKÄ Subject classification

        Climate Research

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