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  1. 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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  2. 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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  3. Rinnan, Riikka (Ed.)
  4. 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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  5. null (Ed.)
    Abstract. Permafrost soils store between 1330 and 1580 Pg carbon (C), which is 3 times the amount of C in global vegetation, almost twice the amount of C in the atmosphere, and half of the global soil organic C pool. Despite the massive amount of C in permafrost, estimates of soil C storage in the high-latitude permafrost region are highly uncertain, primarily due to undersampling at all spatial scales; circumpolar soil C estimates lack sufficient continental spatial diversity, regional intensity, and replication at the field-site level. Siberian forests are particularly undersampled, yet the larch forests that dominate this region may store more than twice as much soil C as all other boreal forest types in the continuous permafrost zone combined. Here we present above- and belowground C stocks from 20 sites representing a gradient of stand age and structure in a larch watershed of the Kolyma River, near Chersky, Sakha Republic, Russia. We found that the majority of C stored in the top 1 m of the watershed was stored belowground (92 %), with 19 % in the top 10 cm of soil and 40 % in the top 30 cm. Carbon was more variable in surface soils (10 cm; coefficient of variation (CV)  =  0.35 between stands) than in the top 30 cm (CV  =  0.14) or soil profile to 1 m (CV  =  0.20). Combined active-layer and deep frozen deposits (surface – 15 m) contained 205 kg C m−2 (yedoma, non-ice wedge) and 331 kg C m−2 (alas), which, even when accounting for landscape-level ice content, is an order of magnitude more C than that stored in the top meter of soil and 2 orders of magnitude more C than in aboveground biomass. Aboveground biomass was composed of primarily larch (53 %) but also included understory vegetation (30 %), woody debris (11 %) and snag (6 %) biomass. While aboveground biomass contained relatively little (8 %) of the C stocks in the watershed, aboveground processes were linked to thaw depth and belowground C storage. Thaw depth was negatively related to stand age, and soil C density (top 10 cm) was positively related to soil moisture and negatively related to moss and lichen cover. These results suggest that, as the climate warms, changes in stand age and structure may be as important as direct climate effects on belowground environmental conditions and permafrost C vulnerability. 
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