University of Oulu

Christensen, T.R., Lund, M., Skov, K. et al. Multiple Ecosystem Effects of Extreme Weather Events in the Arctic. Ecosystems 24, 122–136 (2021).

Multiple ecosystem effects of extreme weather events in the Arctic

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Author: Christensen, T. R.1; Lund, M.1; Skov, K.1,2;
Organizations: 1Department of Bioscience, Arctic Research Centre, Aarhus University, Roskilde, Denmark
2Department of Earth Science and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
3Department of Geography and Regional Science, University of Graz, Graz, Austria
4Asiaq - Greenland Survey, Nuuk, Greenland
5Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
6London Geochemistry and Isotope Centre, University College London, London, UK
7Oulanka Research Station, Oulu University, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-04-29


The Arctic is getting warmer and wetter. Here, we document two independent examples of how associated extreme precipitation patterns have severe implications for high Arctic ecosystems. The events stand out in a 23-year record of continuous observations of a wide range of ecosystem parameters and act as an early indication of conditions projected to increase in the future. In NE Greenland, August 2015, one-quarter of the average annual precipitation fell during a 9-day intensive rain event. This ranked number one for daily sums during the 1996–2018 period and caused a strong and prolonged reduction in solar radiation decreasing CO₂ uptake in the order of 18–23 g C m⁻², a reduction comparable to typical annual C budgets in Arctic tundra. In a different type of event, but also due to changed weather patterns, an extreme snow melt season in 2018 triggered a dramatic gully thermokarst causing rapid transformation in ecosystem functioning from consistent annual ecosystem CO₂ uptake and low methane exchange to highly elevated methane release, net source of CO₂, and substantial export of organic carbon downstream as riverine and coastal input. In addition to climate warming alone, more frequent occurrence of extreme weather patterns will have large implications for otherwise undisturbed tundra ecosystems including their element transport and carbon interactions with the atmosphere and ocean.

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Series: Ecosystems
ISSN: 1432-9840
ISSN-E: 1435-0629
ISSN-L: 1432-9840
Volume: 24
Issue: 1
Pages: 122 - 136
DOI: 10.1007/s10021-020-00507-6
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This work was supported by the Danish Ministry of Energy, Utilities and Climate and the Government of Greenland.
Copyright information: © 2020 The Author(s). This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit