University of Oulu

Zona, D., Lafleur, P.M., Hufkens, K. et al. Earlier snowmelt may lead to late season declines in plant productivity and carbon sequestration in Arctic tundra ecosystems. Sci Rep 12, 3986 (2022).

Earlier snowmelt may lead to late season declines in plant productivity and carbon sequestration in Arctic tundra ecosystems

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Author: Zona, Donatella1,2; Lafleur, Peter M.3; Hufkens, Koen4,5;
Organizations: 1Department Biology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, 92182, USA
2School of Biosciences, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK
3School of the Environment, Trent University, Peterborough, ON, K9L 0G2, Canada
4UMR 1391 ISPA, INRA, 71 Avenue Edouard Bourlaux, 33140, Villenave d’Ornon, France
5Department of Applied Ecology and Environmental Biology, Ghent University, 653, 9000, Ghent, Belgium
6Institute of BioEconomy, IBE, National Research Council (CNR), Via Giovanni Caproni 8, 50145, Firenze, Italy
7LI-COR Biosciences, 4421 Superior St., Lincoln, NE, 68504, USA
8The Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, 68583, USA
9Department of Earth Sciences, University of Waikato, Hillcrest, Hamilton, 3216, New Zealand
10Water and Environmental Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, 99775-7340, USA
11Woodwell Climate Research Center, Falmouth, MA, 02540, USA
12Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, 99775, USA
13W.A. Franke College of Forestry & Conservation, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT, 59812, USA
14Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, 07745, Jena, Germany
15Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research (INAR)/Physics, Faculty of Science, University of Helsinki, Gustaf Hällströmin katu 2b, 00560, P.O. Box 64, 00014, Helsinki, Finland
16Department of Ecoscience, Arctic Research Centre, Aarhus University, Frederiksborgvej 399, 4000, Roskilde, Denmark
17Oulanka Research Station, Oulu University, Kuusamo, Finland
18Department of Environment and Minerals, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, 3900, Nuuk, Greenland
19Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University, 22362, Lund, Sweden
20The Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Den Burg, PO Box 59, 1790 AB, Texel, The Netherlands
21Department of Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems and Bioresources, Research and Innovation Centre, Fondazione Edmund Mach, Via E. Mach 1, 38010, San Michele all’Adige, TN, Italy
22Agrarian‐Technological Institute, RUDN University, 117198, Moscow, Russia
23Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY, 10964, USA
24School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, 20 Oxford St., Cambridge, MA, 02138, USA
25Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA, 91109-8099, USA
26Earth Systems Research Center, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, University of New Hampshire, 8 College Road, Durham, NH, 03824, USA
27Institute of Soil Science, Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN), Universität Hamburg, 20146, Hamburg, Germany
28Permafrost Research, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam, Germany
29Geography Department, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 10099, Berlin, Germany
30GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, 14473, Potsdam, Germany
31Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, K1S 5B6, Canada
32Climate and Ecosystem Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Berkeley, CA, 94720, USA
33Département de Géographie, Université de Montréal, 1375 Avenue Thérèse-Lavoie-Roux, Montréal, QC, H2V 0B3, Canada
34Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University, 75 University Ave W., Waterloo, ON, N2S 3C5, Canada
35Department of Geography, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, EX4 4RJ, UK
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-08-10


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 CO₂ 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 CO₂ 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 CO₂ later in the season.

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Series: Scientific reports
ISSN: 2045-2322
ISSN-E: 2045-2322
ISSN-L: 2045-2322
Volume: 12
Issue: 1
Article number: 3986
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-07561-1
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: The complete list of funding bodies that supported this study is included in the SI Appendix. DZ, WCO, XX, and DAL acknowledge support from the Office of Polar Programs of the National Science Foundation (NSF) (award number 1204263, and 1702797) with additional logistical support funded by the NSF Office of Polar Programs, from the NASA Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE), an Earth Ventures (EV-1) investigation, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and from the NASA ABoVE (NNX15AT74A; NNX16AF94A) Program. JDW acknowledges support from NASA NNH17ZDA001N-NIP. The Alaskan sites are located on land owned by the Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation (UIC). This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 727890, and by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) UAMS Grant (NE/P002552/1), and from the NOAA Cooperative Science Center for Earth System Sciences and Remote Sensing Technologies (NOAA-CESSRST) under the Cooperative Agreement Grant # NA16SEC4810008. Part of the analysis was carried out in part at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (80NM0018D0004).
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