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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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Biogeosciences Discuss., 10, 16329-16369, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
24 Oct 2013
Review status
This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG). A final paper in BG is not foreseen.
Exploring the response of West Siberian wetland methane emissions to future changes in climate, vegetation, and soil microbial communities
T. J. Bohn and D. P. Lettenmaier
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

Abstract. We ran the VIC land surface model over the West Siberian Lowland (WSL), forced with outputs from 32 CMIP5 models for the RCP4.5 scenario, and compared the effects of changes in climate and vegetation (leaf area index in particular) on predicted wetland CH4 emissions and other fluxes for the period 2071–2100, relative to the period 1981–2010. We also explored possible responses of soil microbial communities to these changes. Our results suggest that, if soil microbial communities acclimatize to elevated temperatures without changes in species abundances, end-of-century CH4 emissions from the WSL will only rise to 3.6 Tg CH4 yr−1 (6% above historical emissions). In contrast, if microbial species abundances in the north additionally shift to resemble those in the south, CH4 emissions will more than double, to 7.3 Tg CH4 yr−1. Crucially, while historical emissions were concentrated in the southern half of the domain, acclimatization plus microbial population shifts concentrate almost 3/4 of future emissions in the northern half of the domain, where the possible release of carbon with permafrost thaw is a concern. In addition, microbial population shifts disproportionately increase microbial activity in the period during and immediately following snowmelt, when highly labile carbon is first thought to be released from the soil. This work indicates the importance of better constraining the responses of soil microbial communities to changes in climate and vegetation as they are critical determinants of the region's future methane emissions.

Citation: Bohn, T. J. and Lettenmaier, D. P.: Exploring the response of West Siberian wetland methane emissions to future changes in climate, vegetation, and soil microbial communities, Biogeosciences Discuss., 10, 16329-16369, doi:10.5194/bgd-10-16329-2013, 2013.
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