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High sensitivity of the continental-weathering carbon dioxide sink to future climate change

Publication Year


  • Beaulieu, E.
  • Godderis, Y.
  • Donnadieu, Y.
  • Labat, D.
  • Roelandt, C.
NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE Volume: 2 Issue: 5 Pages: 346-349 Published: 2012

According to future anthropogenic emission scenarios, the atmospheric CO2 concentration may double before the end of the twenty-first century(1). This increase is predicted to result in a global warming of more than 6 degrees C in the worst case(1). The global temperature increase will promote changes in the hydrologic cycle through redistributions of rainfall patterns and continental vegetation cover(1,2). All of these changes will impact the chemical weathering of continental rocks. Long considered an inert CO2 consumption flux at the century timescale, recent works have demonstrated its potential high sensitivity to the ongoing climate and land-use changes(3,4). Here we show that the CO2 consumption flux related to weathering processes increases by more than 50% for an atmospheric CO2 doubling for one of the most important Arctic watersheds: the Mackenzie River Basin. This result has been obtained using a process-based model of the chemical weathering of continental surfaces forced by models describing the atmospheric general circulation and the dynamic of the vegetation(5,6) under increased, atmospheric CO2. Our study stresses the potential role that weathering may play in the evolution of the global carbon cycle over the next centuries.

Author Keyword(s)
    KeyWord(s) Plus
    • IMPACT
    • RUNOFF
    • MODEL
    • RIVER
    • CYCLE
    ESI Discipline(s)
    • Environment/Ecology
    • Geosciences
    • Social Sciences
    Web of Science Category(ies)
    • Environmental Sciences
    • Environmental Studies
    • Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences

    [Beaulieu, E.; Godderis, Y.; Labat, D.] Univ Toulouse 3, Observ Midi Pyrenees, CNRS, F-31400 Toulouse, France; [Donnadieu, Y.] CEA Orme Merisiers, Lab Sci Climat & Environm, F-91191 Gif Sur Yvette, France; [Roelandt, C.] Univ Bergen, Inst Geophys, N-5007 Bergen, Norway; [Roelandt, C.] Bjerknes Ctr Climate Res, N-5007 Bergen, Norway

    Reprint Adress

    Godderis, Y (reprint author), Univ Toulouse 3, Observ Midi Pyrenees, CNRS, F-31400 Toulouse, France.

    • France
    • Norway
    CNRS - Adress(es)
    • Laboratoire des sciences du climat et de l'environnement (LSCE), UMR8212
    • Observatoire midi-Pyrénées (OMP), UMS831
    Accession Number
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