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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2024
  2. Abstract Arctic warming is affecting snow cover and soil hydrology, with consequences for carbon sequestration in tundra ecosystems. The scarcity of observations in the Arctic has limited our understanding of the impact of covarying environmental drivers on the carbon balance of tundra ecosystems. In this study, we address some of these uncertainties through a novel record of 119 site-years of summer data from eddy covariance towers representing dominant tundra vegetation types located on continuous permafrost in the Arctic. Here we found that earlier snowmelt was associated with more tundra net CO 2 sequestration and higher gross primary productivity (GPP) only in June and July, but with lower net carbon sequestration and lower GPP in August. Although higher evapotranspiration (ET) can result in soil drying with the progression of the summer, we did not find significantly lower soil moisture with earlier snowmelt, nor evidence that water stress affected GPP in the late growing season. Our results suggest that the expected increased CO 2 sequestration arising from Arctic warming and the associated increase in growing season length may not materialize if tundra ecosystems are not able to continue sequestering CO 2 later in the season.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  3. Abstract. The continued warming of the Arctic could release vast stores of carbon into the atmosphere from high-latitude ecosystems, especially from thawingpermafrost. Increasing uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) by vegetation during longer growing seasons may partially offset such release of carbon. However, evidence of significant net annual release of carbon from site-level observations and model simulations across tundra ecosystems has been inconclusive. To address this knowledge gap, we combined top-down observations of atmospheric CO2 concentration enhancements from aircraft and a tall tower, which integrate ecosystem exchange over large regions, with bottom-up observed CO2 fluxes from tundraenvironments and found that the Alaska North Slope is not a consistent net source nor net sink of CO2 to the atmosphere (ranging from −6 to+6 Tg C yr−1 for 2012–2017). Our analysis suggests that significant biogenic CO2 fluxes from unfrozen terrestrial soils, and likely inland waters, during the early cold season (September–December) are major factors in determining the net annual carbon balance of the North Slope, implying strong sensitivity to the rapidly warming freeze-up period. At the regional level, we find no evidence of the previously reported large late-cold-season (January–April) CO2 emissions to the atmosphere during the study period. Despite the importance of the cold-season CO2 emissionsmore »to the annual total, the interannual variability in the net CO2 flux is driven by the variability in growing season fluxes. During the growing season, the regional net CO2 flux is also highly sensitive to the distribution of tundra vegetation types throughout the North Slope. This study shows that quantification and characterization of year-round CO2 fluxes from the heterogeneous terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in the Arctic using both site-level and atmospheric observations are important to accurately project the Earth system response to future warming.« less
  4. Abstract Despite the importance of high-latitude surface energy budgets (SEBs) for land-climate interactions in the rapidly changing Arctic, uncertainties in their prediction persist. Here, we harmonize SEB observations across a network of vegetated and glaciated sites at circumpolar scale (1994–2021). Our variance-partitioning analysis identifies vegetation type as an important predictor for SEB-components during Arctic summer (June-August), compared to other SEB-drivers including climate, latitude and permafrost characteristics. Differences among vegetation types can be of similar magnitude as between vegetation and glacier surfaces and are especially high for summer sensible and latent heat fluxes. The timing of SEB-flux summer-regimes (when daily mean values exceed 0 Wm −2 ) relative to snow-free and -onset dates varies substantially depending on vegetation type, implying vegetation controls on snow-cover and SEB-flux seasonality. Our results indicate complex shifts in surface energy fluxes with land-cover transitions and a lengthening summer season, and highlight the potential for improving future Earth system models via a refined representation of Arctic vegetation types.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
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  7. Abstract

    The atmospheric methane (CH4) concentration, a potent greenhouse gas, is on the rise once again, making it critical to understand the controls on CH4emissions. In Arctic tundra ecosystems, a substantial part of the CH4budget originates from the cold season, particularly during the “zero curtain” (ZC), when soil remains unfrozen around 0 °C. Due to the sparse data available at this time, the controls on cold season CH4emissions are poorly understood. This study investigates the relationship between the fall ZC and CH4emissions using long‐term soil temperature measurements and CH4fluxes from four eddy covariance (EC) towers in northern Alaska. To identify the large‐scale implication of the EC results, we investigated the temporal change of terrestrial CH4enhancements from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration monitoring station in Utqiaġvik, AK, from 2001 to 2017 and their association with the ZC. We found that the ZC is extending later into winter (2.6 ± 0.5 days/year from 2001 to 2017) and that terrestrial fall CH4enhancements are correlated with later soil freezing (0.79 ± 0.18‐ppb CH4day−1unfrozen soil). ZC conditions were associated with consistently higher CH4fluxes than after soil freezing across all EC towers during the measuring period (2013–2017). Unfrozen soil persisted after air temperature was wellmore »below 0 °C suggesting that air temperature has poor predictive power on CH4fluxes relative to soil temperature. These results imply that later soil freezing can increase CH4loss and that soil temperature should be used to model CH4emissions during the fall.

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