Biogeosciences Discuss., 4, 1953-2005, 2007
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The exchange of carbon dioxide between wet arctic tundra and the atmosphere at the Lena River Delta, Northern Siberia
L. Kutzbach1,*, C. Wille1,*, and E.-M. Pfeiffer2
1Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Research Unit Potsdam, Telegrafenberg A43, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
2University of Hamburg, Institute of Soil Science, Allende-Platz 2, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
*now at: Ernst Moritz Arndt University Greifswald, Institute for Botany and Landscape Ecology, Grimmer Straße 88, 17487 Greifswald, Germany

Abstract. The exchange fluxes of carbon dioxide between wet arctic polygonal tundra and the atmosphere were investigated by the micrometeorological eddy covariance method. The investigation site was situated in the centre of the Lena River Delta in Northern Siberia (72°22' N, 126°30' E). The study region is characterized by a polar and distinctly continental climate, very cold and ice-rich permafrost and its position at the interface between the Eurasian continent and the Arctic Ocean. The soils at the site are characterized by high organic matter content, low nutrient availability and pronounced water logging. The vegetation is dominated by sedges and mosses. The micrometeorological campaigns were performed during the periods July–October 2003 and May–July 2004 which included the period of snow and soil thaw as well as the beginning of soil refreeze. The main CO2 exchange processes, the gross photosynthesis and the ecosystem respiration, were found to be of a generally low intensity. The gross photosynthesis accumulated to –432 g m−2 over the photosynthetically active period (June–September). The contribution of mosses to the gross photosynthesis was estimated to be about 40%. The diurnal trend of the gross photosynthesis was mainly controlled by the incoming photosynthetically active radiation. During midday the photosynthetic apparatus of the canopy was frequently near saturation and represented the limiting factor on gross photosynthesis. The synoptic weather conditions strongly affected the exchange fluxes of CO2 by changes in cloudiness, precipitation and pronounced changes of air temperature. The ecosystem respiration accumulated to +327 g m−2 over the photosynthetically active period, which corresponds to 76% of the CO2 uptake by photosynthesis. However, the ecosystem respiration continued at substantial rates during autumn when photosynthesis had ceased and the soils were still largely unfrozen. The temporal variability of the ecosystem respiration during summer was best explained by an exponential function with surface temperature, and not soil temperature, as the independent variable. This was explained by the major role of the plant respiration within the CO2 balance of the tundra ecosystem. The wet polygonal tundra of the Lena River Delta was observed to be a substantial CO2 sink with an accumulated net ecosystem CO2 exchange of –119 g m−2 over the summer and an estimated annual net ecosystem CO2 exchange of –71 g m−2.

Citation: Kutzbach, L., Wille, C., and Pfeiffer, E.-M.: The exchange of carbon dioxide between wet arctic tundra and the atmosphere at the Lena River Delta, Northern Siberia, Biogeosciences Discuss., 4, 1953-2005, doi:10.5194/bgd-4-1953-2007, 2007.
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