Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/bg-2016-506
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
09 Dec 2016
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).
Exchange of CO2 in Arctic tundra: impacts of meteorological variations and biological disturbance
Efrén López-Blanco1,2, Magnus Lund1, Mathew Williams2, Mikkel P. Tamstorf1, Andreas Westergaard-Nielsen4, Jean-François Exbrayat2, Birger U. Hansen4, and Torben R. Christensen1,3 1Department of Biosciences, Arctic Research Center, Aarhus University, Frederiksborgvej 399, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark
2School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH93JN, UK
3Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University, Sölvegatan 12, 223 62 Lund, Sweden
4Center for Permafrost (CENPERM), Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Oester voldgade 10, 1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark
Abstract. An improvement in our process-based understanding of carbon (C) exchange in the Arctic, and its climate sensitivity, is critically needed for understanding the response of tundra ecosystems to a changing climate. In this context, we analyzed the net ecosystem exchange (NEE) of CO2 in West Greenland tundra (64° N) across eight snow-free periods in eight consecutive years, and characterized the key processes of net ecosystem exchange, and its two main modulating components: gross primary production (GPP) and ecosystem respiration (Reco). Overall, the ecosystem acted as a consistent sink of CO2, accumulating −30 g C m−2 on average (range −17 to −41 g C m−2) during the years 2008–2015, except 2011 that was associated with a major pest outbreak. The results do not reveal a marked meteorological effect on the net CO2 uptake despite the high inter-annual variability in the timing of snowmelt, start and duration of the growing season. The ranges in annual GPP (−182 to −316 g C m−2) and Reco (144 to 279 g C m−2) were > 5 fold larger and they were also more variable (Coefficients of variation are 3.6 and 4.1 % respectively) than for NEE (0.7 %). GPP and Reco were sensitive to insolation and temperatures; and there was a tendency towards larger GPP and Reco during warmer and wetter years. The relative lack of sensitivity of NEE to climate was a result of the correlated meteorological response of GPP and Reco. During the 2011 anomalous year, the studied ecosystem released 41 g C m−2 as biological disturbance reduced GPP more strongly than Reco. With continued warming temperatures and longer growing seasons, tundra systems will increase rates of C cycling although shifts in sink strength will likely be triggered by factors such as biological disturbances, events that will challenge the forecast of upcoming C states.

Citation: López-Blanco, E., Lund, M., Williams, M., Tamstorf, M. P., Westergaard-Nielsen, A., Exbrayat, J.-F., Hansen, B. U., and Christensen, T. R.: Exchange of CO2 in Arctic tundra: impacts of meteorological variations and biological disturbance, Biogeosciences Discuss., doi:10.5194/bg-2016-506, in review, 2016.
Efrén López-Blanco et al.
Efrén López-Blanco et al.
Efrén López-Blanco et al.

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Short summary
An improvement in our process-based understanding of CO2 exchanges in the Arctic, and their climate sensitivity, is critical. With continued warming temperatures and longer growing seasons, tundra systems will likely increase rates of C cycling, although shifts in sink strength could take place challenging the forecast of upcoming C states. In this context, we investigated the functional responses of C exchange to environmental characteristics across eight consecutive years in West Greenland.
An improvement in our process-based understanding of CO2 exchanges in the Arctic, and their...
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