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Title: The importance of interactions between snow, permafrost and vegetation dynamics in affecting terrestrial carbon balance in circumpolar regions
Abstract Permafrost dynamics can drastically affect vegetation and soil carbon dynamics in northern high latitudes. Vegetation has significant influences on the energy balance of soil surface by impacting the short-wave radiation, long-wave radiation and surface sensible heat flux, affecting soil thermal dynamics, in turn, inducing vegetation shift, affecting carbon cycling. During winter, snow can also significantly impact soil temperature due to its insulative effect. However, these processes have not been fully modeled to date. To quantify the interactions between vegetation, snow, and soil thermal dynamics and their impacts on carbon dynamics over the circumpolar region (45–90° N), we revise a sophisticated ecosystem model to improve simulations of soil temperature profile and their influences on vegetation, ecosystem carbon pools and fluxes. We find that, with warmer soil temperature in winter and cooler soil temperature in summer simulated with the revised model considering vegetation shift and snow effects, the region will release 1.54 Pg C/year to the atmosphere for present-day and 66.77–87.95 Pg C in 2022–2100. The canopy effects due to vegetation shift, however, will get more carbon sequestered into the ecosystem at 1.00 Pg C/year for present day and 36.09–44.32 Pg C/year in 2022–2100. This study highlights the importance to consider the interactions between snow, vegetation shift and soil thermal dynamics in simulating carbon dynamics in the region.  more » « less
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Environmental Research Letters
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National Science Foundation
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