Annual patterns and budget of CO2 flux in an arctic tussock tundra ecosystem
Walter C. Oechel1, Cheryl A. Laskowski1,George Burba2, Beniamino Gioli3, Aram A. M. Kalhori1,
The functioning of Arctic ecosystems is not only critically affected by climate change, but it also has the potential for major positive feedbacks on climate. There is however relatively little information on the role, patterns, and vulnerabilities of CO2 fluxes during the non-summer seasons in Arctic ecosystems. Presented here is a year-around study of CO2 fluxes in an Alaskan Arctic tussock tundra ecosystem, and key environmental controls on these fluxes. Important controls on fluxes vary by season. This paper also presents a new empirical quantification of seasons in the Arctic based on net radiation. The fluxes were computed using standard FluxNet methodology and corrected using standard Web-Pearman-Leuning (WPL) density terms adjusted for influences of open-path instrument surface heating. The results showed that the non-summer season comprises a significant source of carbon to the atmosphere. The summer period was a net sink of 24.3 g C m-2, while the non-summer seasons released 37.9 g C m-2. This release is 1.6 times the summer uptake, resulting in a net annual source of +13.6 g C m-2 to the atmosphere. These findings support early observations of a change in this particular region of the Arctic from a long-term annual sink of CO2 to an annual source from the terrestrial ecosystem and soils to the atmosphere. The results presented here demonstrate that nearly continuous observations may be required in order to accurately calculate the annual NEE of Arctic ecosystems, and to build predictive understanding that can be used to estimate, with confidence, Arctic fluxes under future conditions.