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  1. Abstract

    An estimated 1700 Pg of carbon is frozen in the Arctic permafrost and the fate of this carbon is unclear because of the complex interaction of biophysical, ecological and biogeochemical processes that govern the Arctic carbon budget. Two key processes determining the region’s long-term carbon budget are: (a) carbon uptake through increased plant growth, and (b) carbon release through increased heterotrophic respiration (HR) due to warmer soils. Previous predictions for how these two opposing carbon fluxes may change in the future have varied greatly, indicating that improved understanding of these processes and their feedbacks is critical for advancing our predictive ability for the fate of Arctic peatlands. In this study, we implement and analyze a vertically-resolved model of peatland soil carbon into a cohort-based terrestrial biosphere model to improve our understanding of how on-going changes in climate are altering the Arctic carbon budget. A key feature of the formulation is that accumulation of peat within the soil column modifies its texture, hydraulic conductivity, and thermal conductivity, which, in turn influences resulting rates of HR within the soil column. Analysis of the model at three eddy covariance tower sites in the Alaskan tundra shows that the vertically-resolved soil column formulationmore »accurately captures the zero-curtain phenomenon, in which the temperature of soil layers remain at or near 0 °C during fall freezeback due to the release of latent heat, is critical to capturing observed patterns of wintertime respiration. We find that significant declines in net ecosystem productivity (NEP) occur starting in 2013 and that these declines are driven by increased HR arising from increased precipitation and warming. Sensitivity analyses indicate that the cumulative NEP over the decade responds strongly to the estimated soil carbon stock and more weakly to vegetation abundance at the beginning of the simulation.

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  2. Abstract

    Thermokarst lakes accelerate deep permafrost thaw and the mobilization of previously frozen soil organic carbon. This leads to microbial decomposition and large releases of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) that enhance climate warming. However, the time scale of permafrost-carbon emissions following thaw is not well known but is important for understanding how abrupt permafrost thaw impacts climate feedback. We combined field measurements and radiocarbon dating of CH4ebullition with (a) an assessment of lake area changes delineated from high-resolution (1–2.5 m) optical imagery and (b) geophysical measurements of thaw bulbs (taliks) to determine the spatiotemporal dynamics of hotspot-seep CH4ebullition in interior Alaska thermokarst lakes. Hotspot seeps are characterized as point-sources of high ebullition that release14C-depleted CH4from deep (up to tens of meters) within lake thaw bulbs year-round. Thermokarst lakes, initiated by a variety of factors, doubled in number and increased 37.5% in area from 1949 to 2009 as climate warmed. Approximately 80% of contemporary CH4hotspot seeps were associated with this recent thermokarst activity, occurring where 60 years of abrupt thaw took place as a result of new and expanded lake areas. Hotspot occurrence diminished with distance from thermokarst lake margins. We attribute older14C ages of CH4released from hotspot seepsmore »in older, expanding thermokarst lakes (14CCH420 079 ± 1227 years BP, mean ± standard error (s.e.m.) years) to deeper taliks (thaw bulbs) compared to younger14CCH4in new lakes (14CCH48526 ± 741 years BP) with shallower taliks. We find that smaller, non-hotspot ebullition seeps have younger14C ages (expanding lakes 7473 ± 1762 years; new lakes 4742 ± 803 years) and that their emissions span a larger historic range. These observations provide a first-order constraint on the magnitude and decadal-scale duration of CH4-hotspot seep emissions following formation of thermokarst lakes as climate warms.

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  3. 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
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  5. Abstract. Past efforts to synthesize and quantify the magnitude and change in carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems across the rapidly warming Arctic–boreal zone (ABZ) have provided valuable information but were limited in their geographical and temporal coverage. Furthermore, these efforts have been based on data aggregated over varying time periods, often with only minimal site ancillary data, thus limiting their potential to be used in large-scale carbon budget assessments. To bridge these gaps, we developed a standardized monthly database of Arctic–boreal CO2 fluxes (ABCflux) that aggregates in situ measurements of terrestrial net ecosystem CO2 exchange and its derived partitioned component fluxes: gross primary productivity and ecosystem respiration. The data span from 1989 to 2020 with over 70 supporting variables that describe key site conditions (e.g., vegetation and disturbance type), micrometeorological and environmental measurements (e.g., air and soil temperatures), and flux measurement techniques. Here, we describe these variables, the spatial and temporal distribution of observations, the main strengths and limitations of the database, and the potential research opportunities it enables. In total, ABCflux includes 244 sites and 6309 monthly observations; 136 sites and 2217 monthly observations represent tundra, and 108 sites and 4092 observations represent the boreal biome. The database includesmore »fluxes estimated with chamber (19 % of the monthly observations), snow diffusion (3 %) and eddy covariance (78 %) techniques. The largest number of observations were collected during the climatological summer (June–August; 32 %), and fewer observations were available for autumn (September–October; 25 %), winter (December–February; 18 %), and spring (March–May; 25 %). ABCflux can be used in a wide array of empirical, remote sensing and modeling studies to improve understanding of the regional and temporal variability in CO2 fluxes and to better estimate the terrestrial ABZ CO2 budget. ABCflux is openly and freely available online (Virkkala et al., 2021b,« less
  6. Abstract. In the global methane budget, the largest natural sourceis attributed to wetlands, which encompass all ecosystems composed ofwaterlogged or inundated ground, capable of methane production. Among them,northern peatlands that store large amounts of soil organic carbon have beenfunctioning, since the end of the last glaciation period, as long-termsources of methane (CH4) and are one of the most significant methanesources among wetlands. To reduce uncertainty of quantifying methane flux in theglobal methane budget, it is of significance to understand the underlyingprocesses for methane production and fluxes in northern peatlands. A methanemodel that features methane production and transport by plants, ebullitionprocess and diffusion in soil, oxidation to CO2, and CH4 fluxes tothe atmosphere has been embedded in the ORCHIDEE-PEAT land surface modelthat includes an explicit representation of northern peatlands.ORCHIDEE-PCH4 was calibrated and evaluated on 14 peatland sites distributedon both the Eurasian and American continents in the northern boreal andtemperate regions. Data assimilation approaches were employed to optimizedparameters at each site and at all sites simultaneously. Results show thatmethanogenesis is sensitive to temperature and substrate availability overthe top 75 cm of soil depth. Methane emissions estimated using single siteoptimization (SSO) of model parameters are underestimated by 9 g CH4 m−2 yr−1 on average (i.e., 50 % higher thanmore »the site average ofyearly methane emissions). While using the multi-site optimization (MSO),methane emissions are overestimated by 5 g CH4 m−2 yr−1 onaverage across all investigated sites (i.e., 37 % lower than the siteaverage of yearly methane emissions).« less
  7. Abstract Wetland methane (CH 4 ) emissions ( $${F}_{{{CH}}_{4}}$$ F C H 4 ) are important in global carbon budgets and climate change assessments. Currently, $${F}_{{{CH}}_{4}}$$ F C H 4 projections rely on prescribed static temperature sensitivity that varies among biogeochemical models. Meta-analyses have proposed a consistent $${F}_{{{CH}}_{4}}$$ F C H 4 temperature dependence across spatial scales for use in models; however, site-level studies demonstrate that $${F}_{{{CH}}_{4}}$$ F C H 4 are often controlled by factors beyond temperature. Here, we evaluate the relationship between $${F}_{{{CH}}_{4}}$$ F C H 4 and temperature using observations from the FLUXNET-CH 4 database. Measurements collected across the globe show substantial seasonal hysteresis between $${F}_{{{CH}}_{4}}$$ F C H 4 and temperature, suggesting larger $${F}_{{{CH}}_{4}}$$ F C H 4 sensitivity to temperature later in the frost-free season (about 77% of site-years). Results derived from a machine-learning model and several regression models highlight the importance of representing the large spatial and temporal variability within site-years and ecosystem types. Mechanistic advancements in biogeochemical model parameterization and detailed measurements in factors modulating CH 4 production are thus needed to improve global CH 4 budget assessments.