Quantifying distribution in carbon uptake and environmental measurements with the Gini coefficient

  • Mohamed N. Safi Department of Mathematics, Augsburg College, Minneapolis, MN, USA
  • John M. Zobitz Department of Mathematics, Augsburg College, Minneapolis, MN, USA
Keywords: Gini coefficient, net ecosystem exchange, gross primary productivity, total ecosystem respiration, terrestrial ecosystems


The Gini coefficient is a measure used in economics to evaluate the equitability of the distribution of a resource across a population. This project applied the Gini coefficient as a classification method for a decade-long data set consisting of environmental observations and carbon flux data for a coniferous forest in Finland. Our results show consistency in the Gini coefficient for environmental variables, even with interannual variation in the measurements during the carbon uptake period or when the ecosystem is absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. The Gini coefficient calculations showed this ecosystem has an inequitable distribution of carbon uptake and release within the carbon uptake period, which is comparable to the inequitable distribution of temperature and precipitation during the same time period. We also calculated the percentage of the carbon uptake period that has passed for different cumulative proportions of a measurement. Future applications of the Gini coefficient to other ecosystems will enhance knowledge of the distribution of environmental and flux measurements across the carbon uptake period.

How to Cite
Safi, Mohamed N., and John M. Zobitz. 2016. “Quantifying Distribution in Carbon Uptake and Environmental Measurements With the Gini Coefficient”. Letters in Biomathematics 3 (1), 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1080/23737867.2016.1144489.