University of Oulu

Kelsey, K. C., Leffler, A. J., Beard, K. H., Choi, R. T., Schmutz, J. A., & Welker, J. M. (2018). Phenological mismatch in coastal western Alaska may increase summer season greenhouse gas uptake. Environmental Research Letters, 13(4), 44032.

Phenological mismatch in coastal western Alaska may increase summer season greenhouse gas uptake

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Author: Kelsey, Katharine C.1; Leffler, A. Joshua2; Beard, Karen H.3;
Organizations: 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alaska Anchorage, AL, United States of America
2Natural Resource Management, South Dakota State University, SD, United States of America
3Department of Wildland Resources and Ecology Center, Utah State University, UT, United States of America
4US Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center, Anchorage, AL, United States of America
5UArctic, Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, Finland and University of Alaska Anchorage, AL, United States of America
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: IOP Publishing, 2018
Publish Date: 2019-06-19


High latitude ecosystems are prone to phenological mismatches due to climate change- driven advances in the growing season and changing arrival times of migratory herbivores. These changes have the potential to alter biogeochemical cycling and contribute to feedbacks on climate change by altering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of carbon dioxide (CO₂), methane (CH₄) and nitrous oxide (N₂O) through large regions of the Arctic. Yet the effects of phenological mismatches on gas fluxes are currently unexplored. We used a three-year field experiment that altered the start of the growing season and timing of grazing to investigate how phenological mismatch affects GHG exchange. We found early grazing increased mean GHG emission to the atmosphere despite lower CH₄ emissions due to grazing-induced changes in vegetation structure that increased uptake of CO₂. In contrast, late grazing reduced GHG emissions because greater plant productivity led to an increase in CO₂ uptake that overcame the increase in CH₄ emission. Timing of grazing was an important control on both CO₂ and CH₄ emissions, and net GHG exchange was the result of opposing fluxes of CO₂ and CH₄. N₂O played a negligible role in GHG flux. Advancing the growing season had a smaller effect on GHG emissions than changes to timing of grazing in this study. Our results suggest that a phenological mismatch that delays timing of grazing relative to the growing season, a change which is already developing along in western coastal Alaska, will reduce GHG emissions to the atmosphere through increased CO₂ uptake despite greater CH₄ emissions.

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Series: Environmental research letters
ISSN: 1748-9326
ISSN-E: 1748-9326
ISSN-L: 1748-9326
Volume: 13
Issue: 4
Article number: 044032
DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aab698
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This work was supported by the National Science Foundation Arctic System Science Program awards 1304523 and 1304879, and by the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station, Utah State University, and approved as journal paper number 9002.
Dataset Reference: Supplementary data
Copyright information: © 2018 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd. Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence.Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.