University of Oulu

Agata Buchwal, Patrick F. Sullivan, Marc Macias-Fauria, Eric Post, Isla H. Myers-Smith, Julienne C. Stroeve, Daan Blok, Ken D. Tape, Bruce C. Forbes, Pascale Ropars, Esther Lévesque, Bo Elberling, Sandra Angers-Blondin, Joseph S. Boyle, Stéphane Boudreau, Noémie Boulanger-Lapointe, Cassandra Gamm, Martin Hallinger, Grzegorz Rachlewicz, Amanda Young, Pentti Zetterberg, Jeffrey M. Welker (2020) Divergence of Arctic shrub growth associated with sea ice decline, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Dec 2020, 117 (52) 33334-33344; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2013311117

Divergence of Arctic shrub growth associated with sea ice decline

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Author: Buchwal, Agata1,2; Sullivan, Patrick F.3; Macias-Fauria, Marc4;
Organizations: 1Institute of Geoecology and Geoinformation, Adam Mickiewicz University, 61-680 Poznan, Poland
2Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK 99508
3Environment and Natural Resources Institute, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK 99508
4School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, OX1 3QY Oxford, United Kingdom
5Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616
6School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, EH9 3FF Edinburgh, United Kingdom
7National Snow and Ice Data Center, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309
8Centre for Earth Observation Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MT MB R3T 2N2, Canada
9Dutch Research Council (NWO), 93460 The Hague, The Netherlands
10Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775
11Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, FI-96101 Rovaniemi, Finland
12Chaire de Recherche du Canada en Biodiversité Nordique, Université du Québec à Rimouski, QC G5L 3A1 Rimouski, Canada
13Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment, McGill University, QC H9X 3V9 Montreal, Canada
14Département des Sciences de l’Environnement et Centre d’Études Nordiques, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, QC G8Z 4M3 Trois-Rivières, Canada
15Center for Permafrost, Department of Geoscience and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, DK-1350 Copenhagen, Denmark
16Département de Biologie et Centre d’Etudes Nordiques, Université Laval, QC G1V 0A6 Québec City, Canada
17Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2, Canada
18Biology Department, Swedish Agricultural University, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
19Department of Health and Environmental Science, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, 215123 Suzhou, China
20Toolik Field Station, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775
21Department of Geography, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802
22Laboratory of Dendrochronology, School of Forest Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, FI-80101 Joensuu, Finland
23Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu and UArctic, 90570 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-03-10


Arctic sea ice extent (SIE) is declining at an accelerating rate with a wide range of ecological consequences. However, determining sea ice effects on tundra vegetation remains a challenge. In this study, we examined the universality or lack thereof in tundra shrub growth responses to changes in SIE and summer climate across the Pan-Arctic, taking advantage of 23 tundra shrub-ring chronologies from 19 widely distributed sites (56°N to 83°N). We show a clear divergence in shrub growth responses to SIE that began in the mid-1990s, with 39% of the chronologies showing declines and 57% showing increases in radial growth (decreasers and increasers, respectively). Structural equation models revealed that declining SIE was associated with rising air temperature and precipitation for increasers and with increasingly dry conditions for decreasers. Decreasers tended to be from areas of the Arctic with lower summer precipitation and their growth decline was related to decreases in the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index. Our findings suggest that moisture limitation, associated with declining SIE, might inhibit the positive effects of warming on shrub growth over a considerable part of the terrestrial Arctic, thereby complicating predictions of vegetation change and future tundra productivity.

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Series: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
ISSN: 0027-8424
ISSN-E: 1091-6490
ISSN-L: 0027-8424
Volume: 117
Issue: 52
Pages: 33334 - 33344
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2013311117
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This research was supported by the Polish–US Fulbright Commission (A.B.), the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education program MOBILNOSC PLUS (1072/MOB/2013/0), and project N306 009139 (A.B.), EU-F7P INTERACT (262693) (A.B. and G.R.), Scientific Exchange Program Sciex (09.045) (A.B.), NSF grant 1504141, and Arctic Observing Network (A.B. and J.M.W.). P.F.S. was supported by NSF grant OPP-1108425. M.M.-F. was supported by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) grant IRF NE/L011859/1. E.P. was supported by NSF grants OPP-0902125, OPP-1107381, and OPP-1525636. J.C.S. was supported by Canada 150 Research Chairs Program. I.H.M.-S., S.A.-B., and J.S.B. were supported by UK NERC grant NE/M016323/1; and S.A.-B. was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund. K.D.T. was supported by NSF grant OPP-1418123. B.C.F. was supported by the Academy of Finland decisions no. 256991, European Commission Research and Innovation Action no. 869471, and Joint Programming Initiative "Connecting Climate Knowledge for Europe" no. 291581. E.L. and N.B.-L. were supported by the Northern communities, NSERC, the ArcticNet, and by the Polar Continental Shelf Program. Additionally, N.B.-L. was supported by the Fonds de Recherche du Québec - Nature et Technologies. B.E. was supported by the Danish National Research Foundation grant Center for Permafrost DNRF100. S.A.-B. was supported by the NSERC and the Northern Scientific Training Program. J.M.W. was supported by the UArctic Research Chairship.
EU Grant Number: (262693) INTERACT - International Network for Terrestrial Research and Monitoring in the Arctic
Copyright information: © 2020 the Author(s). Published by PNAS. This open access article is distributed under Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CC BY).