Reviews and syntheses: Carbonyl sulfide as a multi-scale tracer for carbon and water cycles

Mary E. Whelan, Sinikka T. Lennartz, Teresa E. Gimeno, Richard Wehr, Georg Wohlfahrt, Yuting Wang, Linda M.J. Kooijmans, Timothy W. Hilton, Sauveur Belviso, Philippe Peylin, Risn Commane, Wu Sun, Huilin Chen, Le Kuai, Ivan Mammarella, Kadmiel Maseyk, Max Berkelhammer, King Fai Li, Dan Yakir, Andrew ZumkehrYoko Katayama, Jrme Oge, Felix M. Spielmann, Florian Kitz, Bharat Rastogi, Jrgen Kesselmeier, Julia Marshall, Kukka Maaria Erkkila, Lisa Wingate, Laura K. Meredith, Wei He, Rdiger Bunk, Thomas Launois, Timo Vesala, Johan A. Schmidt, Cdric G. Fichot, Ulli Seibt, Scott Saleska, Eric S. Saltzman, Stephen A. Montzka, Joseph A. Berry, J. Elliott Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


For the past decade, observations of carbonyl sulfide (OCS or COS) have been investigated as a proxy for carbon uptake by plants. OCS is destroyed by enzymes that interact with CO2 during photosynthesis, namely carbonic anhydrase (CA) and RuBisCO, where CA is the more important one. The majority of sources of OCS to the atmosphere are geographically separated from this large plant sink, whereas the sources and sinks of CO2 are co-located in ecosystems. The drawdown of OCS can therefore be related to the uptake of CO2 without the added complication of co-located emissions comparable in magnitude. Here we review the state of our understanding of the global OCS cycle and its applications to ecosystem carbon cycle science. OCS uptake is correlated well to plant carbon uptake, especially at the regional scale. OCS can be used in conjunction with other independent measures of ecosystem function, like solar-induced fluorescence and carbon and water isotope studies. More work needs to be done to generate global coverage for OCS observations and to link this powerful atmospheric tracer to systems where fundamental questions concerning the carbon and water cycle remain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3625-3657
Number of pages33
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 18 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes


Dive into the research topics of 'Reviews and syntheses: Carbonyl sulfide as a multi-scale tracer for carbon and water cycles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this