Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Agriculture and the global carbon cycle

Evolving agricultural practices dramatically increased crop production in the twentieth century. Two studies now find that this has altered the seasonal flux of atmospheric carbon dioxide. See Letters p.394 & p.398

Your institute does not have access to this article

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Agricultural revolution.

Rui Dias-Aidos/Thinkstock


  1. Keeling, C. D., Chin, J. F. S. & Whorf, T. P. Nature 382, 146–149 (1996).

    CAS  Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  2. Graven, H. D. et al. Science 341, 1085–1089 (2013).

    CAS  Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  3. Pearman, G. & Hyson, P. J. Geophys. Res. 86, 9839–9843 (1981).

    CAS  Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  4. Kohlmaier, G. H. et al. Tellus B 41, 487–510 (1989).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  5. Randerson, J. T., Thompson, M. V., Conway, T. J., Fung, I. Y. & Field, C. B. Glob. Biogeochem. Cycles 11, 535–560 (1997).

    CAS  Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  6. Gray, J. M. et al. Nature 515, 398–401 (2014).

    CAS  Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  7. Zeng, N. et al. Nature 515, 394–397 (2014).

    CAS  Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  8. Ciais, P. et al. in Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis (eds Stocker, T. F. et al.) Ch. 6, 465–570 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013).

    Google Scholar 

  9. FAO Statistical Yearbook 2013, (FAO, 2013).

  10. Myneni, R. B., Keeling, C. D., Tucker, C. J., Asrar, G. & Nemani, R. R. Nature 386, 698–702 (1997).

    CAS  Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  11. Piao, S. et al. Nature 451, 49–52 (2008).

    CAS  Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  12. Zimov, S. A. et al. Science 284, 1973–1976 (1999).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Natasha MacBean.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

MacBean, N., Peylin, P. Agriculture and the global carbon cycle. Nature 515, 351–352 (2014).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Further reading


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing