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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 05 Nov 2018

Research article | 05 Nov 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

A segmentation algorithm for characterizing Rise and Fall segments in seasonal cycles: an application to XCO2 to estimate benchmarks and assess model bias

Leonardo Calle1, Benjamin Poulter2, and Prabir K. Patra3 Leonardo Calle et al.
  • 1Montana State University, Department of Ecology, Bozeman, Montana 59717, USA
  • 2NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Biospheric Science Laboratory, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, USA
  • 3Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), Yokohama, 236-0001, Japan

Abstract. There is more useful information in the time series of satellite-derived column-averaged carbon dioxide (XCO2) than is typically characterized. Often, the entire time series is treated at once without considering detailed features at shorter timescales, such as non-stationary changes in signal characteristics – amplitude, period, and phase. In many instances, signals are visually and analytically differentiable from other portions in a time series. Each Rise (increasing) and Fall (decreasing) segment, in the seasonal cycle is visually discernable in a graph of the time series. The Rise and Fall segments largely result from seasonal differences in terrestrial ecosystem production, which means that the segment’s signal characteristics can be used to establish observational benchmarks because the signal characteristics are driven by similar underlying processes. We developed an analytical segmentation algorithm to characterize the Rise and Fall segments in XCO2 seasonal cycles. We present the algorithm for general application of the segmentation analysis and emphasize here that the segmentation analysis is more generally applicable to cyclic time series.

We demonstrate the utility of the algorithm with specific results related to the comparison between satellite- and model-derived XCO2 seasonal cycles (2009–2012) for large bioregions on the globe. We found a seasonal amplitude gradient of 0.74–0.77 ppm for every 10˚ degrees of latitude for the satellite data, with similar gradients for Rise and Fall segments. This translates to a south-north seasonal amplitude gradient of 8ppm for XCO2, about half the gradient in seasonal amplitude based on surface site in-situ CO2 data (~19ppm). The latitudinal gradients in period of the satellite-derived seasonal cycles were of opposing sign and magnitude (-9 days/10˚ latitude for Fall segments, and 10 days/10˚ latitude for Rise segments), and suggests that a specific latitude (~N) exists which defines an inversion point for the period asymmetry. Before (after) the point of asymmetry inversion, the periods of Rise segments are less (greater) than the periods of Fall segments; only a single model could reproduce this emergent pattern. The asymmetry in amplitude and period between Rise and Fall segments introduces a novel pattern in seasonal cycle analyses, but while we show these emergent patterns exist in the data, we are still breaking ground in applying the information for science applications. Maybe the most useful application is that the segmentation analysis allowed us to decompose the model biases into their correlated parts of biases in amplitude, period, and phase, independently for Rise and Fall segments. We offer an extended discussion on how such information on model biases and the emergent patterns in satellite-derived seasonal cycles can be used to guide future inquiry and model development.

Leonardo Calle et al.
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Status: open (until 31 Dec 2018)
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Leonardo Calle et al.
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Publications Copernicus
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Short summary
Satellite observations of atmospheric carbon dioxide offer extraordinary insights into the activity of terrestrial ecosystem activity on Earth. The algorithm we present provides researchers with a great deal more information from these satellite data than has been available in the past. We hope the application of this algorithm and analysis tool provides insight into the atmospheric dynamics carbon dioxide and helps inform the development of global ecosystem models in the future.
Satellite observations of atmospheric carbon dioxide offer extraordinary insights into the...