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  1. Abstract

    Global estimates of the land carbon sink are often based on simulations by terrestrial biosphere models (TBMs). The use of a large number of models that differ in their underlying hypotheses, structure and parameters is one way to assess the uncertainty in the historical land carbon sink. Here we show that the atmospheric forcing datasets used to drive these TBMs represent a significant source of uncertainty that is currently not systematically accounted for in land carbon cycle evaluations. We present results from three TBMs each forced with three different historical atmospheric forcing reconstructions over the period 1850–2015. We perform an analysis of variance to quantify the relative uncertainty in carbon fluxes arising from the models themselves, atmospheric forcing, and model-forcing interactions. We find that atmospheric forcing in this set of simulations plays a dominant role on uncertainties in global gross primary productivity (GPP) (75% of variability) and autotrophic respiration (90%), and a significant but reduced role on net primary productivity and heterotrophic respiration (30%). Atmospheric forcing is the dominant driver (52%) of variability for the net ecosystem exchange flux, defined as the difference between GPP and respiration (both autotrophic and heterotrophic respiration). In contrast, for wildfire-driven carbon emissions modelmore »uncertainties dominate and, as a result, model uncertainties dominate for net ecosystem productivity. At regional scales, the contribution of atmospheric forcing to uncertainty shows a very heterogeneous pattern and is smaller on average than at the global scale. We find that this difference in the relative importance of forcing uncertainty between global and regional scales is related to large differences in regional model flux estimates, which partially offset each other when integrated globally, while the flux differences driven by forcing are mainly consistent across the world and therefore add up to a larger fractional contribution to global uncertainty.

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  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
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  4. Large stocks of soil organic carbon (SOC) have accumulated in the Northern Hemisphere permafrost region, but their current amounts and future fate remain uncertain. By analyzing dataset combining >2700 soil profiles with environmental variables in a geospatial framework, we generated spatially explicit estimates of permafrost-region SOC stocks, quantified spatial heterogeneity, and identified key environmental predictors. We estimated that 1014 − 175 + 194 Pg C are stored in the top 3 m of permafrost region soils. The greatest uncertainties occurred in circumpolar toe-slope positions and in flat areas of the Tibetan region. We found that soil wetness index and elevation are the dominant topographic controllers and surface air temperature (circumpolar region) and precipitation (Tibetan region) are significant climatic controllers of SOC stocks. Our results provide first high-resolution geospatial assessment of permafrost region SOC stocks and their relationships with environmental factors, which are crucial for modeling the response of permafrost affected soils to changing climate.
  5. Abstract. This study investigates and compares soil moisture andhydrology projections of broadly used land models with permafrost processesand highlights the causes and impacts of permafrost zone soil moistureprojections. Climate models project warmer temperatures and increases inprecipitation (P) which will intensify evapotranspiration (ET) and runoff inland models. However, this study shows that most models project a long-termdrying of the surface soil (0–20 cm) for the permafrost region despiteincreases in the net air–surface water flux (P-ET). Drying is generallyexplained by infiltration of moisture to deeper soil layers as the activelayer deepens or permafrost thaws completely. Although most models agree ondrying, the projections vary strongly in magnitude and spatial pattern.Land models tend to agree with decadal runoff trends but underestimaterunoff volume when compared to gauge data across the major Arctic riverbasins, potentially indicating model structural limitations. Coordinatedefforts to address the ongoing challenges presented in this study will helpreduce uncertainty in our capability to predict the future Arctichydrological state and associated land–atmosphere biogeochemical processesacross spatial and temporal scales.