Global isoprene and monoterpene emissions under changing climate, vegetation, CO 2 and land use

Stijn Hantson, Wolfgang Knorr, Guy Schurgers, Thomas Pugh, Almut Arneth

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Plants emit large quantities of isoprene and monoterpenes, the main components of global biogenic volatile organic compound (BVOC) emissions. BVOCs have an important impact on the atmospheric composition of methane, and of short-lived radiative forcing agents (e.g. ozone, aerosols etc.). It is therefore necessary to know how isoprene and monoterpene emissions have changed over the past and how future changes in climate, land-use and other factors will impact them. Here we present emission estimates of isoprene and monoterpenes over the period 1901–2 100 based on the dynamic global vegetation model LPJ-GUESS, including the effects of all known important drivers. We find that both isoprene and monoterpene emissions at the beginning of the 20th century were higher than at present. While anthropogenic land-use change largely drives the global decreasing trend for isoprene over the 20th century, changes in natural vegetation composition caused a decreasing trend for monoterpene emissions. Future global isoprene and monoterpene emissions depend strongly on the climate and land-use scenarios considered. Over the 21st century, global isoprene emissions are simulated to either remain stable (RCP 4.5), or decrease further (RCP 8.5), with important differences depending on the underlying land-use scenario. Future monoterpene emissions are expected to continue their present decreasing trend for all scenarios, possibly stabilizing from 2050 onwards (RCP 4.5). These results demonstrate the importance to take both natural vegetation dynamics and anthropogenic changes in land-use into account when estimating past and future BVOC emissions. They also indicate that a future global increase in BVOC emissions is improbable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-45
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Early online date8 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • BVOC
  • Land use
  • Isoprene
  • Monoterpenes


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