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  1. Abstract

    In the Arctic, winter soil temperatures exert strong control over mean annual soil temperature and winter CO2emissions. In tundra ecosystems there is evidence that plant canopy influences on snow accumulation alter winter soil temperatures. By comparison, there has been relatively little research examining the impacts of heterogeneity in boreal forest cover on soil temperatures. Using seven years of data from six sites in northeastern Siberia that vary in stem density we show that snow-depth and forest canopy cover exert equally strong control on cumulative soil freezing degrees days (FDDsoil). Together snow depth and canopy cover explain approximately 75% of the variance in linear models of FDDsoiland freezingn-factors (nf; calculated as the quotient of FDDsoiland FDDair), across sites and years. Including variables related to air temperature, or antecedent soil temperatures does not substantially improve models. The observed increase in FDDsoilwith canopy cover suggests that canopy interception of snow or thermal conduction through trees may be important for winter soil temperature dynamics in forested ecosystems underlain by continuous permafrost. Our results imply that changes in Siberian larch forest cover that arise from climate warming or fire regime changes may have important impacts on winter soil temperature dynamics.

     
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  2. Climate warming is altering the persistence, timing, and distribution of permafrost and snow cover across the terrestrial northern hemisphere. These cryospheric changes have numerous consequences, not least of which are positive climate feedbacks associated with lowered albedo related to declining snow cover, and greenhouse gas emissions from permafrost thaw. Given the large land areas affected, these feedbacks have the potential to impact climate on a global scale. Understanding the magnitudes and rates of changes in permafrost and snow cover is therefore integral for process understanding and quantification of climate change. However, while permafrost and snow cover are largely controlled by climate, their distributions and climate impacts are influenced by numerous interrelated ecosystem processes that also respond to climate and are highly heterogeneous in space and time. In this perspective we highlight ongoing and emerging changes in ecosystem processes that mediate how permafrost and snow cover interact with climate. We focus on larch forests in northeastern Siberia, which are expansive, ecologically unique, and studied less than other Arctic and subarctic regions. Emerging fire regime changes coupled with high ground ice have the potential to foster rapid regional changes in vegetation and permafrost thaw, with important climate feedback implications. 
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  3. null (Ed.)
    Carbon cycle perturbations in high-latitude ecosystems associated with rapid warming can have implications for the global climate. Belowground biomass is an important component of the carbon cycle in these ecosystems, with, on average, significantly more vegetation biomass belowground than aboveground. Large quantities of dead root biomass are also in these ecosystems owing to slow decomposition rates. Current understanding of how live and dead root biomass carbon pools vary across highlatitude ecosystems and the environmental conditions associated with this variation is limited due to the labor- and time-intensive nature of data collection. To that end, we examined patterns and factors (abiotic and biotic) associated with the variation in live and dead fine root biomass (FRB) and FRB carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus concentrations for 23 sites across a latitudinal gradient in Alaska, spanning both boreal forest and tundra biomes. We found no difference in the live or dead FRB variables between these biomes, despite large differences in predominant vegetation types, except for significantly higher live FRB C:N ratios in boreal sites. Soil C:N ratio, moisture, and temperature, along with moss cover, explained a substantial portion of the dead:live FRB ratio variability across sites. We find all these factors have negative relationships with dead FRB, while having positive or no relationship with live FRB. This work demonstrates that FRB does not necessarily correlate with aboveground vegetation characteristics, and it highlights the need for finer-scale measurements of abiotic and biotic factors to understand FRB landscape variability now and into the future. 
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  4. null (Ed.)
    The ability to monitor post-fire ecological responses and associated vegetation cover change is crucial to understanding how boreal forests respond to wildfire under changing climate conditions. Uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) offer an affordable means of monitoring post-fire vegetation recovery for boreal ecosystems where field campaigns are spatially limited, and available satellite data are reduced by short growing seasons and frequent cloud cover. UAV data could be particularly useful across data-limited regions like the Cajander larch (Larix cajanderi Mayr.) forests of northeastern Siberia that are susceptible to amplified climate warming. Cajander larch forests require fire for regeneration but are also slow to accumulate biomass post-fire; thus, tall shrubs and other understory vegetation including grasses, mosses, and lichens dominate for several decades post-fire. Here we aim to evaluate the ability of two vegetation indices, one based on the visible spectrum (GCC; Green Chromatic Coordinate) and one using multispectral data (NDVI; Normalized Difference Vegetation Index), to predict field-based vegetation measures collected across post-fire landscapes of high-latitude Cajander larch forests. GCC and NDVI showed stronger linkages with each other at coarser spatial resolutions e.g., pixel aggregated means with 3-m, 5-m and 10-m radii compared to finer resolutions (e.g., 1-m or less). NDVI was a stronger predictor of aboveground carbon biomass and tree basal area than GCC. NDVI showed a stronger decline with increasing distance from the unburned edge into the burned forest. Our results show NDVI tended to be a stronger predictor of some field-based measures and while GCC showed similar relationships with the data, it was generally a weaker predictor of field-based measures for this region. Our findings show distinguishable edge effects and differentiation between burned and unburned forests several decades post-fire, which corresponds to the relatively slow accumulation of biomass for this ecosystem post-fire. These findings show the utility of UAV data for NDVI in this region as a tool for quantifying and monitoring the post-fire vegetation dynamics in Cajander larch forests. 
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  5. Abstract

    In post‐fire Siberian larch forests, where tree density can vary within a burn perimeter, shrubs constitute a substantial portion of the vegetation canopy. Leaf area index (LAI), defined as the one‐sided total green leaf area per unit ground surface area, is useful for characterizing variation in plant canopies. We estimated LAI with allometry for trees and tall shrubs (>0.5 and <1.5 m) across 26 sites with varying tree stem density (0.05–3.3 stems/m2) and canopy cover (4.6%–76.9%) in a uniformly‐aged mature Siberian larch forest that regenerated following a fire ∼75 years ago. We investigated relationships between tree density, tree LAI, and tall shrub LAI, and between LAI and satellite observations of Normalized Difference and Enhanced Vegetation Indices (NDVI and EVI). Across the density gradient, tree LAI increases with increasing tree density, while tall shrub LAI decreases, exhibiting no patterns in combined tree‐shrub LAI. We also found significant positive relationships between tall shrub LAI and NDVI/EVI from PlanetScope and Landsat imagery. These findings suggest that tall shrubs compensate for lower tree LAI in tree canopy gaps, forming a canopy with contiguous combined tree‐shrub LAI across the density gradient. Our findings suggest that NDVI and EVI are more sensitive to variation in tall shrub canopies than variation in tree canopies or combined tree‐shrub canopies in these ecosystems. The results improve our understanding of the relationships between forest density and tree and shrub leaf area and have implications for interpreting spatial variability in LAI, NDVI, and EVI in Siberian boreal forests.

     
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  6. 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. 
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  7. Rinnan, Riikka (Ed.)
  8. null (Ed.)
    Abstract. Soils in Arctic and boreal ecosystems store twice as much carbon as the atmosphere, a portion of which may be released as high-latitude soils warm. Some of the uncertainty in the timing and magnitude of the permafrost–climate feedback stems from complex interactions between ecosystem properties and soil thermal dynamics. Terrestrial ecosystems fundamentally regulate the response of permafrost to climate change by influencing surface energy partitioning and the thermal properties of soil itself. Here we review how Arctic and boreal ecosystem processes influence thermal dynamics in permafrost soil and how these linkages may evolve in response to climate change. While many of the ecosystem characteristics and processes affecting soil thermal dynamics have been examined individually (e.g., vegetation, soil moisture, and soil structure), interactions among these processes are less understood. Changes in ecosystem type and vegetation characteristics will alter spatial patterns of interactions between climate and permafrost. In addition to shrub expansion, other vegetation responses to changes in climate and rapidly changing disturbance regimes will affect ecosystem surface energy partitioning in ways that are important for permafrost. Lastly, changes in vegetation and ecosystem distribution will lead to regional and global biophysical and biogeochemical climate feedbacks that may compound or offset local impacts on permafrost soils. Consequently, accurate prediction of the permafrost carbon climate feedback will require detailed understanding of changes in terrestrial ecosystem distribution and function, which depend on the net effects of multiple feedback processes operating across scales in space and time. 
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  9. Abstract

    Transpiration and stomatal conductance in deciduous needleleaf boreal forests of northern Siberia can be highly sensitive to water stress, permafrost thaw, and atmospheric dryness. Additionally, north‐eastern Siberian boreal forests are fire‐driven, and larch (Larixspp.) are the sole tree species. We examined differences in tree water use, stand characteristics, and stomatal responses to environmental drivers between high and low tree density stands that burned 76 years ago in north‐eastern Siberia. Our results provide process‐level insight to climate feedbacks related to boreal forest productivity, water cycles, and permafrost across Arctic regions. The high density stand had shallower permafrost thaw depths and deeper moss layers than the low density stand. Rooting depths and shallow root biomass were similar between stands. Daily transpiration was higher on average in the high‐density stand 0.12 L m−2 day−1(SE: 0.004) compared with the low density stand 0.10 L m−2 day−1(SE: 0.001) throughout the abnormally wet summer of 2016. Transpiration rates tended to be similar at both stands during the dry period in 2017 in both stands of 0.10 L m−2 day−1(SE: 0.002). The timing of precipitation impacted stomatal responses to environmental drivers, and the high density stand was more dependent on antecedent precipitation that occurred over longer periods in the past compared with the low density stand. Post‐fire tree density differences in plant–water relations may lead to different trajectories in plant mortality, water stress, and ecosystem water cycles across Siberian landscapes.

     
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