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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    To assess climate‐mediated terrestrial‐aquatic linkages in Arctic lakes and potential impacts on light attenuation and carbon cycling, we evaluated lake responses to climate drivers in two areas of west Greenland with differing climate patterns. We selected four lakes in a warmer, drier area to compare with four lakes from a cooler, wetter area proximal to the Greenland Ice Sheet. In June from 2013–2018, we measured epilimnetic water temperature, 1% depth of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), dissolved organic carbon (DOC), specific ultraviolet absorbance (SUVA254), DOC‐normalized absorbance at 380 nm (a*380), and chlorophylla. Interannual coherence of 1% PAR and DOC was particularly high for lakes within the warmer, drier area. This coherence suggests forcing of Arctic lake features by a large‐scale driver, likely climate. Redundancy analysis showed that monthly average precipitation, winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index (NAOW), spring average air temperature, and spring average precipitation influenced the lake variables (p= 0.003, adj.R2= 0.58). In particular, monthly average precipitation contributed to increases in soil‐derived DOC quality metrics and chlorophyllaand decreased 1% PAR. Interannual changes in lake responses to climate drivers were more apparent in the warmer, drier area than the cooler, wetter area. The interannual lake responses within and between areas, associated with climate trends, suggest that with ongoing rapid climate change in the Arctic, there could be widespread impacts on key lake responses important for light attenuation and carbon cycling.

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  3. Abstract

    Prediction of high latitude response to climate change is hampered by poor understanding of the role of nonlinear changes in ecosystem forcing and response. While the effects of nonlinear climate change are often delayed or dampened by internal ecosystem dynamics, recent warming events in the Arctic have driven rapid environmental response, raising questions of how terrestrial and freshwater systems in this region may shift in response to abrupt climate change. We quantified environmental responses to recent abrupt climate change in West Greenland using long-term monitoring and paleoecological reconstructions. Using >40 years of weather data, we found that after 1994, mean June air temperatures shifted 2.2 °C higher and mean winter precipitation doubled from 21 to 40 mm; since 2006, mean July air temperatures shifted 1.1 °C higher. Nonlinear environmental responses occurred with or shortly after these abrupt climate shifts, including increasing ice sheet discharge, increasing dust, advancing plant phenology, and in lakes, earlier ice out and greater diversity of algal functional traits. Our analyses reveal rapid environmental responses to nonlinear climate shifts, underscoring the highly responsive nature of Arctic ecosystems to abrupt transitions.

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  4. Abstract

    Mountains are global biodiversity hotspots where cold environments and their associated ecological communities are threatened by climate warming. Considerable research attention has been devoted to understanding the ecological effects of alpine glacier and snowfield recession. However, much less attention has been given to identifying climate refugia in mountain ecosystems where present‐day environmental conditions will be maintained, at least in the near‐term, as other habitats change. Around the world, montane communities of microbes, animals, and plants live on, adjacent to, and downstream of rock glaciers and related cold rocky landforms (CRL). These geomorphological features have been overlooked in the ecological literature despite being extremely common in mountain ranges worldwide with a propensity to support cold and stable habitats for aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity. CRLs are less responsive to atmospheric warming than alpine glaciers and snowfields due to the insulating nature and thermal inertia of their debris cover paired with their internal ventilation patterns. Thus, CRLs are likely to remain on the landscape after adjacent glaciers and snowfields have melted, thereby providing longer‐term cold habitat for biodiversity living on and downstream of them. Here, we show that CRLs will likely act as key climate refugia for terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity in mountain ecosystems, offer guidelines for incorporating CRLs into conservation practices, and identify areas for future research.

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  5. Abstract Climate change and other anthropogenic stressors have led to long-term changes in the thermal structure, including surface temperatures, deepwater temperatures, and vertical thermal gradients, in many lakes around the world. Though many studies highlight warming of surface water temperatures in lakes worldwide, less is known about long-term trends in full vertical thermal structure and deepwater temperatures, which have been changing less consistently in both direction and magnitude. Here, we present a globally-expansive data set of summertime in-situ vertical temperature profiles from 153 lakes, with one time series beginning as early as 1894. We also compiled lake geographic, morphometric, and water quality variables that can influence vertical thermal structure through a variety of potential mechanisms in these lakes. These long-term time series of vertical temperature profiles and corresponding lake characteristics serve as valuable data to help understand changes and drivers of lake thermal structure in a time of rapid global and ecological change. 
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  6. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Globally, lake surface water temperatures have warmed rapidly relative to air temperatures, but changes in deepwater temperatures and vertical thermal structure are still largely unknown. We have compiled the most comprehensive data set to date of long-term (1970–2009) summertime vertical temperature profiles in lakes across the world to examine trends and drivers of whole-lake vertical thermal structure. We found significant increases in surface water temperatures across lakes at an average rate of + 0.37 °C decade −1 , comparable to changes reported previously for other lakes, and similarly consistent trends of increasing water column stability (+ 0.08 kg m −3 decade −1 ). In contrast, however, deepwater temperature trends showed little change on average (+ 0.06 °C decade −1 ), but had high variability across lakes, with trends in individual lakes ranging from − 0.68 °C decade −1 to + 0.65 °C decade −1 . The variability in deepwater temperature trends was not explained by trends in either surface water temperatures or thermal stability within lakes, and only 8.4% was explained by lake thermal region or local lake characteristics in a random forest analysis. These findings suggest that external drivers beyond our tested lake characteristics are important in explaining long-term trends in thermal structure, such as local to regional climate patterns or additional external anthropogenic influences. 
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  7. Summary

    Dissolved organic matter (DOM) is increasing in many lakes due to climate change and other environmental forcing. A 21‐day microcosm experiment that manipulated terrestrialDOMwas used to determine the effect ofDOMon zooplankton:phytoplankton biomass ratios (z:p). We predicted that ifDOMadditions increase the amount of fixed carbon available for higher trophic levels through stimulation of the microbial loop and hence zooplankton, the z:p will increase. However, ifDOMadditions increase other nutrients besides fixed carbon, we predict stable or decreasing z:p due to nutrient stimulation of phytoplankton that subsequently enhances zooplankton.

    The effects of experimental additions of terrestrially derivedDOMon zooplankton, phytoplankton, z:p and zooplankton net grazing were assessed in microcosms (sealed bags) incubated in the epilimnion (shallow; 1.5 m) and hypolimnion (deep; 8.0 m) strata of an alpine lake.

    DOMaddition treatments (DOM+) had a 6.0‐ to 7.5‐fold increase in phytoplankton biomass relative to controls, but only a 1.3‐ to 1.5‐fold increase in zooplankton biomass, on day 21 of the experiment. The z:p was, thus, lower in theDOM+ treatments (ratios: 2.3 deep and 4.4 shallow) than in the control treatments (ratios: 13.4 deep and 17.5 shallow), providing evidence thatDOMadditions provide nutrient subsidies besides fixed carbon that stimulate phytoplankton biomass accumulation.

    The increase in zooplankton biomass during the experiment was similar in magnitude to the total amount of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in theDOMadded in the sealed bags at the beginning of the experiment, which suggests zooplankton biomass stimulation due to increased phytoplankton biomass, and not fromDOMthrough the microbial loop, which would have greater trophic transfer losses. The consumer net grazing effect in theDOM+ treatments was reduced by 2.8‐fold in the shallow stratum and by 2.9‐fold in the deep stratum relative to the control treatments, indicating that zooplankton were unable to exert strong top–down control on the primary producers.

    The role of nutrients needs to be considered when examining the response of pelagic ecosystems to inputs of terrestrialDOM, especially in lakes with lowerDOCconcentrations.

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  8. Abstract

    Alpine regions are changing rapidly due to loss of snow and ice in response to ongoing climate change. While studies have documented ecological responses in alpine lakes and streams to these changes, our ability to predict such outcomes is limited. We propose that the application of fundamental rules of life can help develop necessary predictive frameworks. We focus on four key rules of life and their interactions: the temperature dependence of biotic processes from enzymes to evolution; the wavelength dependence of the effects of solar radiation on biological and ecological processes; the ramifications of the non‐arbitrary elemental stoichiometry of life; and maximization of limiting resource use efficiency across scales. As the cryosphere melts and thaws, alpine lakes and streams will experience major changes in temperature regimes, absolute and relative inputs of solar radiation in ultraviolet and photosynthetically active radiation, and relative supplies of resources (e.g., carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus), leading to nonlinear and interactive effects on particular biota, as well as on community and ecosystem properties. We propose that applying these key rules of life to cryosphere‐influenced ecosystems will reduce uncertainties about the impacts of global change and help develop an integrated global view of rapidly changing alpine environments. However, doing so will require intensive interdisciplinary collaboration and international cooperation. More broadly, the alpine cryosphere is an example of a system where improving our understanding of mechanistic underpinnings of living systems might transform our ability to predict and mitigate the impacts of ongoing global change across the daunting scope of diversity in Earth's biota and environments.

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