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  1. We utilize a coupled economy–agroecology–hydrology modeling framework to capture the cascading impacts of climate change mitigation policy on agriculture and the resulting water quality cobenefits. We analyze a policy that assigns a range of United States government’s social cost of carbon estimates ($51, $76, and $152/ton of CO2-equivalents) to fossil fuel–based CO2emissions. This policy raises energy costs and, importantly for agriculture, boosts the price of nitrogen fertilizer production. At the highest carbon price, US carbon emissions are reduced by about 50%, and nitrogen fertilizer prices rise by about 90%, leading to an approximate 15% reduction in fertilizer applications for corn production across the Mississippi River Basin. Corn and soybean production declines by about 7%, increasing crop prices by 6%, while nitrate leaching declines by about 10%. Simulated nitrate export to the Gulf of Mexico decreases by 8%, ultimately shrinking the average midsummer area of the Gulf of Mexico hypoxic area by 3% and hypoxic volume by 4%. We also consider the additional benefits of restored wetlands to mitigate nitrogen loading to reduce hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico and find a targeted wetland restoration scenario approximately doubles the effect of a low to moderate social cost of carbon. Wetland restoration alone exhibited spillover effects that increased nitrate leaching in other parts of the basin which were mitigated with the inclusion of the carbon policy. We conclude that a national climate policy aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the United States would have important water quality cobenefits.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 24, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  3. Soil carbon (C) in permafrost peatlands is vulnerable to decomposition with thaw under a warming climate. The amount and form of C loss likely depends on the site hydrology following permafrost thaw, but antecedent conditions during peat accumulation are also likely important. We test the role of differing hydrologic conditions on rates of peat accumulation, permafrost formation, and response to warming at an Arctic tundra fen using a process-based model of peatland dynamics in wet and dry landscape settings that persist from peat initiation in the mid-Holocene through future simulations to 2100 CE and 2300 CE. Climate conditions for both the wet and dry landscape settings are driven by the same downscaled TraCE-21ka transient paleoclimate simulations and CCSM4 RCP8.5 climate drivers. The landscape setting controlled the rates of peat accumulation, permafrost formation and the response to climatic warming and permafrost thaw. The dry landscape scenario had high rates of initial peat accumulation (11.7 ± 3.4 mm decade −1 ) and rapid permafrost aggradation but similar total C stocks as the wet landscape scenario. The wet landscape scenario was more resilient to 21st century warming temperatures than the dry landscape scenario and showed 60% smaller C losses and 70% more new net peat C additions by 2100 CE. Differences in the modeled responses indicate the largest effect is related to the landscape setting and basin hydrology due to permafrost controls on decomposition, suggesting an important sensitivity to changing runoff patterns. These subtle hydrological effects will be difficult to capture at circumpolar scales but are important for the carbon balance of permafrost peatlands under future climate warming. 
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  4. Permafrost thaw increases active layer thickness, changes landscape hydrology and influences vegetation species composition. These changes alter belowground microbial and geochemical processes, affecting production, consumption and net emission rates of climate forcing trace gases. Net carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) and methane (CH 4 ) fluxes determine the radiative forcing contribution from these climate-sensitive ecosystems. Permafrost peatlands may be a mosaic of dry frozen hummocks, semi-thawed or perched sphagnum dominated areas, wet permafrost-free sedge dominated sites and open water ponds. We revisited estimates of climate forcing made for 1970 and 2000 for Stordalen Mire in northern Sweden and found the trend of increasing forcing continued into 2014. The Mire continued to transition from dry permafrost to sedge and open water areas, increasing by 100% and 35%, respectively, over the 45-year period, causing the net radiative forcing of Stordalen Mire to shift from negative to positive. This trend is driven by transitioning vegetation community composition, improved estimates of annual CO 2 and CH 4 exchange and a 22% increase in the IPCC's 100-year global warming potential (GWP_100) value for CH 4 . These results indicate that discontinuous permafrost ecosystems, while still remaining a net overall sink of C, can become a positive feedback to climate change on decadal timescales. This article is part of a discussion meeting issue ‘Rising methane: is warming feeding warming? (part 2)’. 
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  5. Abstract

    Northern peatlands are a large C stock and often act as a C sink, but are susceptible to climate warming. To understand the role of peatlands in the global carbon‐climate feedback, it is necessary to accurately quantify their C stock changes and decomposition. In this study, a process‐based model, the Peatland Terrestrial Ecosystem Model, is used to simulate pan‐Arctic peatland C dynamics from 15 ka BP to 1990. To improve the accuracy of the simulation, spatially explicit water run‐on and run‐off processes were considered, four different pan‐Arctic peatland extent data sets were used, and a spatially explicit peat basal date data set was developed using a neural network approach. The model was calibrated against 2055 peat thickness observations and the parameters were interpolated to the pan‐Arctic region. Using the model, we estimate that, in 1990, the pan‐Arctic peatlands soil C stock was 396–421 Pg C, and the Holocene average C accumulation rate was 22.9 g C·m−2 yr−1. Our estimated peat permafrost development history generally agrees with multi‐proxy‐based paleo‐climate data sets and core‐derived permafrost areal dynamics. Under Anthropocene warming, in the freeze‐thaw and permafrost‐free regions, the peat C accumulation rate decreased, but it increased in permafrost regions. Our study suggests that if current permafrost regions switch to permafrost‐free conditions in a warming future, the peat C accumulation rate of the entire pan‐Arctic region will decrease, but the sink and source activities of these peatlands are still uncertain.

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    Abstract. Current peatland models generally treat vegetation as static, although plant community structure is known to alter as a response to environmental change. Because the vegetation structure and ecosystem functioning are tightly linked, realistic projections of peatland response to climate change require the inclusion of vegetation dynamics in ecosystem models. In peatlands, Sphagnum mosses are key engineers. Moss community composition primarily follows habitat moisture conditions. The known species habitat preference along the prevailing moisture gradient might not directly serve as a reliable predictor for future species compositions, as water table fluctuation is likely to increase. Hence, modelling the mechanisms that control the habitat preference of Sphagna is a good first step for modelling community dynamics in peatlands. In this study, we developed the Peatland Moss Simulator (PMS), which simulates the community dynamics of the peatland moss layer. PMS is a process-based model that employs a stochastic, individual-based approach for simulating competition within the peatland moss layer based on species differences in functional traits. At the shoot-level, growth and competition were driven by net photosynthesis, which was regulated by hydrological processes via the capitulum water content. The model was tested by predicting the habitat preferences of Sphagnum magellanicum and Sphagnum fallax – two key species representing dry (hummock) and wet (lawn) habitats in a poor fen peatland (Lakkasuo, Finland). PMS successfully captured the habitat preferences of the two Sphagnum species based on observed variations in trait properties. Our model simulation further showed that the validity of PMS depended on the interspecific differences in the capitulum water content being correctly specified. Neglecting the water content differences led to the failure of PMS to predict the habitat preferences of the species in stochastic simulations. Our work highlights the importance of the capitulum water content with respect to the dynamics and carbon functioning of Sphagnum communities in peatland ecosystems. Thus, studies of peatland responses to changing environmental conditions need to include capitulum water processes as a control on moss community dynamics. Our PMS model could be used as an elemental design for the future development of dynamic vegetation models for peatland ecosystems. 
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