Partitioning of atmospheric carbon dioxide over Central Europe: insights from combined measurements of CO2 mixing ratios and their carbon isotope composition

Isotopes Environ Health Stud. 2012 Sep;48(3):421-33. doi: 10.1080/10256016.2012.663368. Epub 2012 Apr 4.


Regular measurements of atmospheric CO (2) mixing ratios and their carbon isotope composition ((13)C/(12)C and (14)C/(12)C ratios) performed between 2005 and 2009 at two sites of contrasting characteristics (Krakow and the remote mountain site Kasprowy Wierch) located in southern Poland were used to derive fossil fuel-related and biogenic contributions to the total CO (2) load measured at both sites. Carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere, not coming from fossil fuel and biogenic sources, was considered 'background' CO (2). In Krakow, the average contribution of fossil fuel CO (2) was approximately 3.4%. The biogenic component was of the same magnitude. Both components revealed a distinct seasonality, with the fossil fuel component reaching maximum values during winter months and the biogenic component shifted in phase by approximately 6 months. The partitioning of the local CO (2) budget for the Kasprowy Wierch site revealed large differences in the derived components: the fossil fuel component was approximately five times lower than that derived for Krakow, whereas the biogenic component was negative in summer, pointing to the importance of photosynthetic sink associated with extensive forests in the neighbourhood of the station. While the presented study has demonstrated the strength of combined measurements of CO (2) mixing ratios and their carbon isotope signature as efficient tools for elucidating the partitioning of local atmospheric CO (2) loads, it also showed the important role of the land cover and the presence of the soil in the footprint of the measurement location, which control the net biogenic surface CO (2) fluxes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Atmosphere
  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis*
  • Carbon Isotopes / analysis
  • Europe
  • Fossil Fuels
  • Seasons


  • Air Pollutants
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Fossil Fuels
  • Carbon Dioxide