Tundra carbon balance under varying temperature and moisture regimes

Huemmrich, K. F.; Kinoshita, G.; Gamon, J. A.; Houston, S.; Kwon, H. and Oechel, W. C. (2010). Tundra carbon balance under varying temperature and moisture regimes. Journal of Geophysical Research, 115(G4), article no. G00I02.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1029/2009JG001237

Abstract

To understand the effects of environmental change on tundra carbon balance, a manipulation experiment was performed in wet sedge tundra near Barrow, Alaska. Three replicates of six environmental treatments were made: control, heating, raising or lowering water table, and heating along with raising or lowering water table. Carbon fluxes were measured using a portable chamber for six days during the 2001 growing season. Spectral reflectance and meteorological measurements were also collected. Empirical models derived from flux measurements were developed for daily gross ecosystem production (GEP) and ecosystem respiration (Re). The amount of photosynthetically active radiation absorbed by the plants was strongly correlated with GEP. This relationship was not affected by treatment or time during the growing season. Re was related to soil temperature with a different relationship for each water level treatment. Re in the lowered water table treatment had a strong response to temperature changes, while the raised water table treatment showed little temperature response. These models calculated daily net ecosystem exchange for all of the treatments over the growing season. Warming increased both the seasonal carbon gain and carbon loss. By the end of summer the lowered water table treatments, both heated and unheated, were net carbon sources while all other treatments were sinks. Warming and/or raising the water table increased the strength of the net sink. Over the timescale of this experiment, water table primarily determined whether the ecosystem was a source or sink, with temperature modifying the strength of the source or sink.

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