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Zhu, Lei; Ciais, Philippe; Bastos, Ana; Ballantyne, Ashley P.; Chevallier, Frederic; Gasser, Thomas; Kondo, Masayuki; Pongratz, Julia; Rodenbeck, Christian and Li, Wei (2021): Decadal variability in land carbon sink efficiency. In: Carbon Balance and Management, Vol. 16, No. 1, 15

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Background The climate mitigation target of limiting the temperature increase below 2 degrees C above the pre-industrial levels requires the efforts from all countries. Tracking the trajectory of the land carbon sink efficiency is thus crucial to evaluate the nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Here, we define the instantaneous land sink efficiency as the ratio of natural land carbon sinks to emissions from fossil fuel and land-use and land-cover change with a value of 1 indicating carbon neutrality to track its temporal dynamics in the past decades. Results Land sink efficiency has been decreasing during 1957-1990 because of the increased emissions from fossil fuel. After the effect of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption diminished (after 1994), the land sink efficiency firstly increased before 2009 and then began to decrease again after 2009. This reversal around 2009 is mostly attributed to changes in land sinks in tropical regions in response to climate variations. Conclusions The decreasing trend of land sink efficiency in recent years reveals greater challenges in climate change mitigation, and that climate impacts on land carbon sinks must be accurately quantified to assess the effectiveness of regional scale climate mitigation policies.

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