The terrestrial carbon budget of South and Southeast Asia

Matthew Cervarich, Shijie Shu, Atul K. Jain, Almut Arneth, Josep Canadell, Pierre Friedlingstein, Richard A. Houghton, Etsushi Kato, Charles Koven, Prabir Patra, Ben Poulter, Stephen Sitch, Beni Stocker, Nicolas Viovy, Andy Wiltshire, Ning Zeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Accomplishing the objective of the current climate policies will require establishing carbon budget and flux estimates in each region and county of the globe by comparing and reconciling multiple estimates including the observations and the results of top-down atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) inversions and bottom-up dynamic global vegetation models. With this in view, this study synthesizes the carbon source/sink due to net ecosystem productivity (NEP), land cover land use change (E LUC), fires and fossil burning (E FIRE) for the South Asia (SA), Southeast Asia (SEA) and South and Southeast Asia (SSEA = SA + SEA) and each country in these regions using the multiple top-down and bottom-up modeling results. The terrestrial net biome productivity (NBP = NEP - E LUC - E FIRE) calculated based on bottom-up models in combination with E FIRE based on GFED4s data show net carbon sinks of 217 ±147, 10 ±55, and 227 ±279 TgC yr-1 for SA, SEA, and SSEA. The top-down models estimated NBP net carbon sinks were 20 ±170, 4 ±90 and 24 ±180 TgC yr-1. In comparison, regional emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels were 495, 275, and 770 TgC yr-1, which are many times higher than the NBP sink estimates, suggesting that the contribution of the fossil fuel emissions to the carbon budget of SSEA results in a significant net carbon source during the 2000s. When considering both NBP and fossil fuel emissions for the individual countries within the regions, Bhutan and Laos were net carbon sinks and rest of the countries were net carbon source during the 2000s. The relative contributions of each of the fluxes (NBP, NEP, E LUC, and E FIRE, fossil fuel emissions) to a nation's net carbon flux varied greatly from country to country, suggesting a heterogeneous dominant carbon fluxes on the country-level throughout SSEA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105006
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 19 2016


  • carbon budget
  • land surface model
  • terrestrial carbon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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