Elyn Humphreys


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Pan‐Arctic soil moisture control on tundra carbon sequestration and plant productivity
Donatella Zona, Peter M. Lafleur, Koen Hufkens, Beniamino Gioli, Barbara Bailey, George Burba, Eugénie Euskirchen, Jennifer D. Watts, Kyle A. Arndt, Mary Farina, J. S. Kimball, Martin Heimann, Mathias Goeckede, Martijn Pallandt, Torben R. Christensen, Mikhail Mastepanov, Efrén López‐Blanco, A.J. Dolman, R. Commane, Charles E. Miller, Josh Hashemi, Lars Kutzbach, David Holl, Julia Boike, Christian Wille, Torsten Sachs, Aram Kalhori, Elyn Humphreys, Oliver Sonnentag, Gesa Meyer, Gabriel Gosselin, Philip Marsh, Walter C. Oechel
Global Change Biology, Volume 29, Issue 5

Long-term atmospheric CO2 concentration records have suggested a reduction in the positive effect of warming on high-latitude carbon uptake since the 1990s. A variety of mechanisms have been proposed to explain the reduced net carbon sink of northern ecosystems with increased air temperature, including water stress on vegetation and increased respiration over recent decades. However, the lack of consistent long-term carbon flux and in situ soil moisture data has severely limited our ability to identify the mechanisms responsible for the recent reduced carbon sink strength. In this study, we used a record of nearly 100 site-years of eddy covariance data from 11 continuous permafrost tundra sites distributed across the circumpolar Arctic to test the temperature (expressed as growing degree days, GDD) responses of gross primary production (GPP), net ecosystem exchange (NEE), and ecosystem respiration (ER) at different periods of the summer (early, peak, and late summer) including dominant tundra vegetation classes (graminoids and mosses, and shrubs). We further tested GPP, NEE, and ER relationships with soil moisture and vapor pressure deficit to identify potential moisture limitations on plant productivity and net carbon exchange. Our results show a decrease in GPP with rising GDD during the peak summer (July) for both vegetation classes, and a significant relationship between the peak summer GPP and soil moisture after statistically controlling for GDD in a partial correlation analysis. These results suggest that tundra ecosystems might not benefit from increased temperature as much as suggested by several terrestrial biosphere models, if decreased soil moisture limits the peak summer plant productivity, reducing the ability of these ecosystems to sequester carbon during the summer.


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Warming response of peatland CO2 sink is sensitive to seasonality in warming trends
Manuel Helbig, T. Živković, Pavel Alekseychik, Mika Aurela, Tarek S. El-Madany, Eugénie Euskirchen, Lawrence B. Flanagan, T. J. Griffis, Paul J. Hanson, J. Hattakka, Carole Helfter, Takashi Hirano, Elyn Humphreys, Gérard Kiely, Randall K. Kolka, Tuomas Laurila, Paul Leahy, Annalea Lohila, Ivan Mammarella, Mats Nilsson, А. В. Панов, Frans‐Jan W. Parmentier, Matthias Peichl, Janne Rinne, Daniel T. Roman, Oliver Sonnentag, Eeva‐Stiina Tuittila, Masahito Ueyama, Timo Vesala, Patrik Vestin, Simon Weldon, Per Weslien, Sönke Zaehle
Nature Climate Change, Volume 12, Issue 8

Peatlands have acted as net CO2 sinks over millennia, exerting a global climate cooling effect. Rapid warming at northern latitudes, where peatlands are abundant, can disturb their CO2 sink function. Here we show that sensitivity of peatland net CO2 exchange to warming changes in sign and magnitude across seasons, resulting in complex net CO2 sink responses. We use multiannual net CO2 exchange observations from 20 northern peatlands to show that warmer early summers are linked to increased net CO2 uptake, while warmer late summers lead to decreased net CO2 uptake. Thus, net CO2 sinks of peatlands in regions experiencing early summer warming, such as central Siberia, are more likely to persist under warmer climate conditions than are those in other regions. Our results will be useful to improve the design of future warming experiments and to better interpret large-scale trends in peatland net CO2 uptake over the coming few decades.

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Earlier snowmelt may lead to late season declines in plant productivity and carbon sequestration in Arctic tundra ecosystems
Donatella Zona, Peter M. Lafleur, Koen Hufkens, Barbara Bailey, Beniamino Gioli, George Burba, Jordan P. Goodrich, A. K. Liljedahl, Eugénie Euskirchen, Jennifer D. Watts, Mary Farina, J. S. Kimball, Martin Heimann, Mathias Göckede, Martijn Pallandt, Torben R. Christensen, Mikhail Mastepanov, Efrén López‐Blanco, Marcin Jackowicz-Korczyński, A. J. Dolman, Luca Belelli Marchesini, R. Commane, Steven C. Wofsy, Charles E. Miller, David A. Lipson, Josh Hashemi, Kyle A. Arndt, Lars Kutzbach, David Holl, Julia Boike, Christian Wille, Torsten Sachs, Aram Kalhori, Xingyu Song, Xiaofeng Xu, Elyn Humphreys, C. Koven, Oliver Sonnentag, Gesa Meyer, Gabriel Gosselin, Philip Marsh, Walter C. Oechel
Scientific Reports, Volume 12, Issue 1

Arctic warming is affecting snow cover and soil hydrology, with consequences for carbon sequestration in tundra ecosystems. The scarcity of observations in the Arctic has limited our understanding of the impact of covarying environmental drivers on the carbon balance of tundra ecosystems. In this study, we address some of these uncertainties through a novel record of 119 site-years of summer data from eddy covariance towers representing dominant tundra vegetation types located on continuous permafrost in the Arctic. Here we found that earlier snowmelt was associated with more tundra net CO2 sequestration and higher gross primary productivity (GPP) only in June and July, but with lower net carbon sequestration and lower GPP in August. Although higher evapotranspiration (ET) can result in soil drying with the progression of the summer, we did not find significantly lower soil moisture with earlier snowmelt, nor evidence that water stress affected GPP in the late growing season. Our results suggest that the expected increased CO2 sequestration arising from Arctic warming and the associated increase in growing season length may not materialize if tundra ecosystems are not able to continue sequestering CO2 later in the season.

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The ABCflux database: Arctic–boreal CO<sub>2</sub> flux observations and ancillary information aggregated to monthly time steps across terrestrial ecosystems
Anna-Maria Virkkala, Susan M. Natali, Brendan M. Rogers, Jennifer D. Watts, K. E. Savage, Sara June Connon, Marguerite Mauritz, Edward A. G. Schuur, D. L. Peter, C. Minions, Julia Nojeim, R. Commane, Craig A. Emmerton, Mathias Goeckede, Manuel Helbig, David Holl, Hiroyasu Iwata, Hideki Kobayashi, Pasi Kolari, Efrén López‐Blanco, Maija E. Marushchak, Mikhail Mastepanov, Lutz Merbold, Frans‐Jan W. Parmentier, Matthias Peichl, Torsten Sachs, Oliver Sonnentag, Masahito Ueyama, Carolina Voigt, Mika Aurela, Julia Boike, Gerardo Celis, Namyi Chae, Torben R. Christensen, M. Syndonia Bret‐Harte, Sigrid Dengel, A. J. Dolman, C. Edgar, Bo Elberling, Eugénie Euskirchen, Achim Grelle, Juha Hatakka, Elyn Humphreys, Järvi Järveoja, Ayumi Kotani, Lars Kutzbach, Tuomas Laurila, Annalea Lohila, Ivan Mammarella, Yukiko Matsuura, Gesa Meyer, Mats Nilsson, Steven F. Oberbauer, Sang Jong Park, Roman E. Petrov, А. С. Прокушкин, Christopher Schulze, Vincent L. St. Louis, Eeva‐Stiina Tuittila, Juha‐Pekka Tuovinen, William L. Quinton, Andrej Varlagin, Donatella Zona, Viacheslav I. Zyryanov
Earth System Science Data, Volume 14, Issue 1

Abstract. Past efforts to synthesize and quantify the magnitude and change in carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems across the rapidly warming Arctic–boreal zone (ABZ) have provided valuable information but were limited in their geographical and temporal coverage. Furthermore, these efforts have been based on data aggregated over varying time periods, often with only minimal site ancillary data, thus limiting their potential to be used in large-scale carbon budget assessments. To bridge these gaps, we developed a standardized monthly database of Arctic–boreal CO2 fluxes (ABCflux) that aggregates in situ measurements of terrestrial net ecosystem CO2 exchange and its derived partitioned component fluxes: gross primary productivity and ecosystem respiration. The data span from 1989 to 2020 with over 70 supporting variables that describe key site conditions (e.g., vegetation and disturbance type), micrometeorological and environmental measurements (e.g., air and soil temperatures), and flux measurement techniques. Here, we describe these variables, the spatial and temporal distribution of observations, the main strengths and limitations of the database, and the potential research opportunities it enables. In total, ABCflux includes 244 sites and 6309 monthly observations; 136 sites and 2217 monthly observations represent tundra, and 108 sites and 4092 observations represent the boreal biome. The database includes fluxes estimated with chamber (19 % of the monthly observations), snow diffusion (3 %) and eddy covariance (78 %) techniques. The largest number of observations were collected during the climatological summer (June–August; 32 %), and fewer observations were available for autumn (September–October; 25 %), winter (December–February; 18 %), and spring (March–May; 25 %). ABCflux can be used in a wide array of empirical, remote sensing and modeling studies to improve understanding of the regional and temporal variability in CO2 fluxes and to better estimate the terrestrial ABZ CO2 budget. ABCflux is openly and freely available online (Virkkala et al., 2021b, https://doi.org/10.3334/ORNLDAAC/1934).

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The definition of the non-growing season matters: a case study of net ecosystem carbon exchange from a Canadian peatland
Arash Rafat, Eunji Byun, Fereidoun Rezanezhad, William L. Quinton, Elyn Humphreys, Kara Webster, Philippe Van Cappellen
Environmental Research Communications, Volume 4, Issue 2

Abstract Climate change is a threat to the 500 Gt carbon stored in northern peatlands. As the region warms, the rise in mean temperature is more pronounced during the non-growing season (NGS, i.e., winter and parts of the shoulder seasons) when net ecosystem loss of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) occurs. Many studies have investigated the impacts of climate warming on NGS CO 2 emissions, yet there is a lack of consistency amongst researchers in how the NGS period is defined. This complicates the interpretation of NGS CO 2 emissions and hinders our understanding of seasonal drivers of important terrestrial carbon exchange processes. Here, we analyze the impact of alternative definitions of the NGS for a peatland site with multiple years of CO 2 flux records. Three climatic parameters were considered to define the NGS: air temperature, soil temperature, and snow cover. Our findings reveal positive correlations between estimates of the cumulative non-growing season net ecosystem CO 2 exchange (NGS-NEE) and the length of the NGS for each alternative definition, with the greatest proportion of variability explained using snow cover ( R 2 = 0.89, p < 0.001), followed by air temperature ( R 2 = 0.79, p < 0.001) and soil temperature ( R 2 = 0.54, p = 0.006). Using these correlations, we estimate average daily NGS CO 2 emitted between 1.42 and 1.90 gCO 2 m −2 , depending on which NGS definition is used. Our results highlight the need to explicitly define the NGS based on available climatic parameters to account for regional climate and ecosystem variability.

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Permafrost Landscape History Shapes Fluvial Chemistry, Ecosystem Carbon Balance, and Potential Trajectories of Future Change
Scott Zolkos, Suzanne E. Tank, Steven V. Kokelj, Robert G. Striegl, Sarah Shakil, Carolina Voigt, Oliver Sonnentag, William L. Quinton, Edward A. G. Schuur, Donatella Zona, Peter M. Lafleur, Ryan C. Sullivan, Masahito Ueyama, David P. Billesbach, David Cook, Elyn Humphreys, Philip Marsh
Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Volume 36, Issue 9

Abstract Intensifying permafrost thaw alters carbon cycling by mobilizing large amounts of terrestrial substrate into aquatic ecosystems. Yet, few studies have measured aquatic carbon fluxes and constrained drivers of ecosystem carbon balance across heterogeneous Arctic landscapes. Here, we characterized hydrochemical and landscape controls on fluvial carbon cycling, quantified fluvial carbon fluxes, and estimated fluvial contributions to ecosystem carbon balance across 33 watersheds in four ecoregions in the continuous permafrost zone of the western Canadian Arctic: unglaciated uplands, ice‐rich moraine, and organic‐rich lowlands and till plains. Major ions, stable isotopes, and carbon speciation and fluxes revealed patterns in carbon cycling across ecoregions defined by terrain relief and accumulation of organics. In previously unglaciated mountainous watersheds, bicarbonate dominated carbon export (70% of total) due to chemical weathering of bedrock. In lowland watersheds, where soil organic carbon stores were largest, lateral transport of dissolved organic carbon (50%) and efflux of biotic CO 2 (25%) dominated. In watersheds affected by thaw‐induced mass wasting, erosion of ice‐rich tills enhanced chemical weathering and increased particulate carbon fluxes by two orders of magnitude. From an ecosystem carbon balance perspective, fluvial carbon export in watersheds not affected by thaw‐induced wasting was, on average, equivalent to 6%–16% of estimated net ecosystem exchange (NEE). In watersheds affected by thaw‐induced wasting, fluvial carbon export approached 60% of NEE. Because future intensification of thermokarst activity will amplify fluvial carbon export, determining the fate of carbon across diverse northern landscapes is a priority for constraining trajectories of permafrost region ecosystem carbon balance.


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Statistical upscaling of ecosystem CO <sub>2</sub> fluxes across the terrestrial tundra and boreal domain: Regional patterns and uncertainties
Anna‐Maria Virkkala, Juha Aalto, Brendan M. Rogers, Torbern Tagesson, Claire C. Treat, Susan M. Natali, Jennifer D. Watts, Stefano Potter, Aleksi Lehtonen, Marguerite Mauritz, Edward A. G. Schuur, John Kochendorfer, Donatella Zona, Walter C. Oechel, Hideki Kobayashi, Elyn Humphreys, Mathias Goeckede, Hiroyasu Iwata, Peter M. Lafleur, Eugénie Euskirchen, Stef Bokhorst, Maija E. Marushchak, Pertti J. Martikainen, Bo Elberling, Carolina Voigt, Christina Biasi, Oliver Sonnentag, Frans‐Jan W. Parmentier, Masahito Ueyama, Gerardo Celis, Vincent L. St. Louis, Craig A. Emmerton, Matthias Peichl, Jinshu Chi, Järvi Järveoja, Mats Nilsson, Steven F. Oberbauer, M. S. Torn, Sang Jong Park, A. J. Dolman, Ivan Mammarella, Namyi Chae, Rafael Poyatos, Efrén López‐Blanco, Torben R. Christensen, Mi Hye Kwon, Torsten Sachs, David Holl, Miska Luoto
Global Change Biology, Volume 27, Issue 17

The regional variability in tundra and boreal carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes can be high, complicating efforts to quantify sink-source patterns across the entire region. Statistical models are increasingly used to predict (i.e., upscale) CO2 fluxes across large spatial domains, but the reliability of different modeling techniques, each with different specifications and assumptions, has not been assessed in detail. Here, we compile eddy covariance and chamber measurements of annual and growing season CO2 fluxes of gross primary productivity (GPP), ecosystem respiration (ER), and net ecosystem exchange (NEE) during 1990–2015 from 148 terrestrial high-latitude (i.e., tundra and boreal) sites to analyze the spatial patterns and drivers of CO2 fluxes and test the accuracy and uncertainty of different statistical models. CO2 fluxes were upscaled at relatively high spatial resolution (1 km2) across the high-latitude region using five commonly used statistical models and their ensemble, that is, the median of all five models, using climatic, vegetation, and soil predictors. We found the performance of machine learning and ensemble predictions to outperform traditional regression methods. We also found the predictive performance of NEE-focused models to be low, relative to models predicting GPP and ER. Our data compilation and ensemble predictions showed that CO2 sink strength was larger in the boreal biome (observed and predicted average annual NEE −46 and −29 g C m−2 yr−1, respectively) compared to tundra (average annual NEE +10 and −2 g C m−2 yr−1). This pattern was associated with large spatial variability, reflecting local heterogeneity in soil organic carbon stocks, climate, and vegetation productivity. The terrestrial ecosystem CO2 budget, estimated using the annual NEE ensemble prediction, suggests the high-latitude region was on average an annual CO2 sink during 1990–2015, although uncertainty remains high.

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Soil respiration strongly offsets carbon uptake in Alaska and Northwest Canada
Jennifer D. Watts, Susan M. Natali, C. Minions, D. A. Risk, Kyle A. Arndt, Donatella Zona, Eugénie Euskirchen, A. V. Rocha, Oliver Sonnentag, Manuel Helbig, Aram Kalhori, W. C. Oechel, Hiroki Ikawa, Masahito Ueyama, Rikie Suzuki, Hideki Kobayashi, Gerardo Celis, Edward A. G. Schuur, Elyn Humphreys, Yongwon Kim, Bang-Yong Lee, Scott J. Goetz, Nima Madani, Luke Schiferl, R. Commane, J. S. Kimball, Zhihua Liu, M. S. Torn, Stefano Potter, Jonathan Wang, M. Torre Jorgenson, Jingfeng Xiao, Xing Li, C. Edgar
Environmental Research Letters, Volume 16, Issue 8

Abstract Soil respiration (i.e. from soils and roots) provides one of the largest global fluxes of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) to the atmosphere and is likely to increase with warming, yet the magnitude of soil respiration from rapidly thawing Arctic-boreal regions is not well understood. To address this knowledge gap, we first compiled a new CO 2 flux database for permafrost-affected tundra and boreal ecosystems in Alaska and Northwest Canada. We then used the CO 2 database, multi-sensor satellite imagery, and random forest models to assess the regional magnitude of soil respiration. The flux database includes a new Soil Respiration Station network of chamber-based fluxes, and fluxes from eddy covariance towers. Our site-level data, spanning September 2016 to August 2017, revealed that the largest soil respiration emissions occurred during the summer (June–August) and that summer fluxes were higher in boreal sites (1.87 ± 0.67 g CO 2 –C m −2 d −1 ) relative to tundra (0.94 ± 0.4 g CO 2 –C m −2 d −1 ). We also observed considerable emissions (boreal: 0.24 ± 0.2 g CO 2 –C m −2 d −1 ; tundra: 0.18 ± 0.16 g CO 2 –C m −2 d −1 ) from soils during the winter (November–March) despite frozen surface conditions. Our model estimates indicated an annual region-wide loss from soil respiration of 591 ± 120 Tg CO 2 –C during the 2016–2017 period. Summer months contributed to 58% of the regional soil respiration, winter months contributed to 15%, and the shoulder months contributed to 27%. In total, soil respiration offset 54% of annual gross primary productivity (GPP) across the study domain. We also found that in tundra environments, transitional tundra/boreal ecotones, and in landscapes recently affected by fire, soil respiration often exceeded GPP, resulting in a net annual source of CO 2 to the atmosphere. As this region continues to warm, soil respiration may increasingly offset GPP, further amplifying global climate change.

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Representativeness of Eddy-Covariance flux footprints for areas surrounding AmeriFlux sites
Housen Chu, Xiangzhong Luo, Zutao Ouyang, Chan Sc, Sigrid Dengel, S. Biraud, M. S. Torn, Stefan Metzger, Jitendra Kumar, M. Altaf Arain, T. J. Arkebauer, Dennis Baldocchi, Carl J. Bernacchi, D. P. Billesbach, T. Andrew Black, Peter D. Blanken, Gil Bohrer, Rosvel Bracho, Scott Brown, Nathaniel A. Brunsell, Jiquan Chen, Xingyuan Chen, Kenneth L. Clark, Ankur R. Desai, Tomer Duman, David Durden, Silvano Fares, Inke Forbrich, John A. Gamon, Christopher M. Gough, Timothy J. Griffis, Manuel Helbig, David Y. Hollinger, Elyn Humphreys, Hiroki Ikawa, Hiroyasu Iwata, Yang Ju, John F. Knowles, Sara Knox, Hideki Kobayashi, Thomas E. Kolb, Beverly E. Law, Xuhui Lee, M. E. Litvak, Heping Li, J. William Munger, Asko Noormets, Kim Novick, Steven F. Oberbauer, Walter C. Oechel, Patricia Y. Oikawa, S. A. Papuga, Elise Pendall, Prajaya Prajapati, John H. Prueger, William L. Quinton, Andrew D. Richardson, Eric S. Russell, Russell L. Scott, Gregory Starr, R. M. Staebler, Paul C. Stoy, Ellen Stuart-Haëntjens, Oliver Sonnentag, Ryan C. Sullivan, Andy Suyker, Masahito Ueyama, Rodrigo Vargas, J. D. Wood, Donatella Zona
Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, Volume 301-302

• Large-scale eddy-covariance flux datasets need to be used with footprint-awareness • Using a fixed-extent target area across sites can bias model-data integration • Most sites do not represent the dominant land-cover type at a larger spatial extent • A representativeness index provides general guidance for site selection and data use Large datasets of greenhouse gas and energy surface-atmosphere fluxes measured with the eddy-covariance technique (e.g., FLUXNET2015, AmeriFlux BASE) are widely used to benchmark models and remote-sensing products. This study addresses one of the major challenges facing model-data integration: To what spatial extent do flux measurements taken at individual eddy-covariance sites reflect model- or satellite-based grid cells? We evaluate flux footprints—the temporally dynamic source areas that contribute to measured fluxes—and the representativeness of these footprints for target areas (e.g., within 250–3000 m radii around flux towers) that are often used in flux-data synthesis and modeling studies. We examine the land-cover composition and vegetation characteristics, represented here by the Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI), in the flux footprints and target areas across 214 AmeriFlux sites, and evaluate potential biases as a consequence of the footprint-to-target-area mismatch. Monthly 80% footprint climatologies vary across sites and through time ranging four orders of magnitude from 10 3 to 10 7 m 2 due to the measurement heights, underlying vegetation- and ground-surface characteristics, wind directions, and turbulent state of the atmosphere. Few eddy-covariance sites are located in a truly homogeneous landscape. Thus, the common model-data integration approaches that use a fixed-extent target area across sites introduce biases on the order of 4%–20% for EVI and 6%–20% for the dominant land cover percentage. These biases are site-specific functions of measurement heights, target area extents, and land-surface characteristics. We advocate that flux datasets need to be used with footprint awareness, especially in research and applications that benchmark against models and data products with explicit spatial information. We propose a simple representativeness index based on our evaluations that can be used as a guide to identify site-periods suitable for specific applications and to provide general guidance for data use.

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Non-growing season carbon emissions in a northern peatland are projected to increase under global warming
Arash Rafat, Fereidoun Rezanezhad, William L. Quinton, Elyn Humphreys, Kara Webster, Philippe Van Cappellen
Communications Earth & Environment, Volume 2, Issue 1

Abstract Peatlands are important ecosystems that store approximately one third of terrestrial organic carbon. Non-growing season carbon fluxes significantly contribute to annual carbon budgets in peatlands, yet their response to climate change is poorly understood. Here, we investigate the governing environmental variables of non-growing season carbon emissions in a northern peatland. We develop a support-vector regression model using a continuous 13-year dataset of eddy covariance flux measurements from the Mer Blue Bog, Canada. We determine that only seven variables were needed to reproduce carbon fluxes, which were most sensitive to net radiation above the canopy, soil temperature, wind speed and soil moisture. We find that changes in soil temperature and photosynthesis drove changes in net carbon flux. Assessing net ecosystem carbon exchange under three representative concentration pathways, we project a 103% increase in peatland carbon loss by 2100 under a high emissions scenario. We suggest that peatland carbon losses constitute a strong positive climate feedback loop.


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Shallow soils are warmer under trees and tall shrubs across Arctic and Boreal ecosystems
Heather Kropp, M. M. Loranty, Susan M. Natali, Alexander Kholodov, A. V. Rocha, Isla H. Myers‐Smith, Benjamin W Abbot, Jakob Abermann, E. Blanc‐Betes, Daan Blok, Gesche Blume‐Werry, Julia Boike, A. L. Breen, Sean M. P. Cahoon, Casper T. Christiansen, Thomas A. Douglas, Howard E. Epstein, G. V. Frost, Mathias Goeckede, Toke T. Høye, Steven D. Mamet, J. A. O’Donnell, David Olefeldt, Gareth K. Phoenix, V. G. Salmon, A. Britta K. Sannel, Sharon L. Smith, Oliver Sonnentag, Lydia Smith Vaughn, Mathew Williams, Bo Elberling, Laura Gough, Jan Hjort, Peter M. Lafleur, Eugénie Euskirchen, M.M.P.D. Heijmans, Elyn Humphreys, Hiroyasu Iwata, Benjamin M. Jones, M. Torre Jorgenson, Inge Grünberg, Yongwon Kim, James A. Laundre, Marguerite Mauritz, Anders Michelsen, Gabriela Schaepman‐Strub, Ken D. Tape, Masahito Ueyama, Bang-Yong Lee, Kirsty Langley, Magnus Lund
Environmental Research Letters, Volume 16, Issue 1

Abstract Soils are warming as air temperatures rise across the Arctic and Boreal region concurrent with the expansion of tall-statured shrubs and trees in the tundra. Changes in vegetation structure and function are expected to alter soil thermal regimes, thereby modifying climate feedbacks related to permafrost thaw and carbon cycling. However, current understanding of vegetation impacts on soil temperature is limited to local or regional scales and lacks the generality necessary to predict soil warming and permafrost stability on a pan-Arctic scale. Here we synthesize shallow soil and air temperature observations with broad spatial and temporal coverage collected across 106 sites representing nine different vegetation types in the permafrost region. We showed ecosystems with tall-statured shrubs and trees (>40 cm) have warmer shallow soils than those with short-statured tundra vegetation when normalized to a constant air temperature. In tree and tall shrub vegetation types, cooler temperatures in the warm season do not lead to cooler mean annual soil temperature indicating that ground thermal regimes in the cold-season rather than the warm-season are most critical for predicting soil warming in ecosystems underlain by permafrost. Our results suggest that the expansion of tall shrubs and trees into tundra regions can amplify shallow soil warming, and could increase the potential for increased seasonal thaw depth and increase soil carbon cycling rates and lead to increased carbon dioxide loss and further permafrost thaw.

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Increasing contribution of peatlands to boreal evapotranspiration in a warming climate
Manuel Helbig, J. M. Waddington, Pavel Alekseychik, B.D. Amiro, Mika Aurela, Alan G. Barr, T. Andrew Black, Peter D. Blanken, Sean K. Carey, Jiquan Chen, Jinshu Chi, Ankur R. Desai, Allison L. Dunn, Eugénie Euskirchen, Lawrence B. Flanagan, Inke Forbrich, Thomas Friborg, Achim Grelle, Silvie Harder, Michal Heliasz, Elyn Humphreys, Hiroki Ikawa, Pierre‐Érik Isabelle, Hiroyasu Iwata, Rachhpal S. Jassal, Mika Korkiakoski, Juliya Kurbatova, Lars Kutzbach, Anders Lindroth, Mikaell Ottosson Löfvenius, Annalea Lohila, Ivan Mammarella, Philip Marsh, Trofim C. Maximov, Joe R. Melton, Paul A. Moore, Daniel F. Nadeau, Erin M. Nicholls, Mats Nilsson, Takeshi Ohta, Matthias Peichl, Richard M. Petrone, Roman E. Petrov, Anatoly Prokushkin, William L. Quinton, David E. Reed, Nigel T. Roulet, Benjamin R. K. Runkle, Oliver Sonnentag, I. B. Strachan, Pierre Taillardat, Eeva‐Stiina Tuittila, Juha‐Pekka Tuovinen, J. Turner, Masahito Ueyama, Andrej Varlagin, Martin Wilmking, Steven C. Wofsy, Vyacheslav Zyrianov
Nature Climate Change, Volume 10, Issue 6

The response of evapotranspiration (ET) to warming is of critical importance to the water and carbon cycle of the boreal biome, a mosaic of land cover types dominated by forests and peatlands. The effect of warming-induced vapour pressure deficit (VPD) increases on boreal ET remains poorly understood because peatlands are not specifically represented as plant functional types in Earth system models. Here we show that peatland ET increases more than forest ET with increasing VPD using observations from 95 eddy covariance tower sites. At high VPD of more than 2 kPa, peatland ET exceeds forest ET by up to 30%. Future (2091–2100) mid-growing season peatland ET is estimated to exceed forest ET by over 20% in about one-third of the boreal biome for RCP4.5 and about two-thirds for RCP8.5. Peatland-specific ET responses to VPD should therefore be included in Earth system models to avoid biases in water and carbon cycle projections.

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The biophysical climate mitigation potential of boreal peatlands during the growing season
Manuel Helbig, J. M. Waddington, Pavel Alekseychik, B.D. Amiro, Mika Aurela, Alan G. Barr, T. Andrew Black, Sean K. Carey, Jiquan Chen, Jinshu Chi, Ankur R. Desai, Allison L. Dunn, Eugénie Euskirchen, Lawrence B. Flanagan, Thomas Friborg, Michelle Garneau, Achim Grelle, Silvie Harder, Michal Heliasz, Elyn Humphreys, Hiroki Ikawa, Pierre‐Érik Isabelle, Hiroyasu Iwata, Rachhpal S. Jassal, Mika Korkiakoski, Juliya Kurbatova, Lars Kutzbach, Е. Д. Лапшина, Anders Lindroth, Mikaell Ottosson Löfvenius, Annalea Lohila, Ivan Mammarella, Philip Marsh, Paul A. Moore, Trofim C. Maximov, Daniel F. Nadeau, Erin M. Nicholls, Mats Nilsson, Takeshi Ohta, Matthias Peichl, Richard M. Petrone, Anatoly Prokushkin, William L. Quinton, Nigel T. Roulet, Benjamin R. K. Runkle, Oliver Sonnentag, I. B. Strachan, Pierre Taillardat, Eeva‐Stiina Tuittila, Juha‐Pekka Tuovinen, J. Turner, Masahito Ueyama, Andrej Varlagin, Timo Vesala, Martin Wilmking, Vyacheslav Zyrianov, Christopher Schulze
Environmental Research Letters, Volume 15, Issue 10

Peatlands and forests cover large areas of the boreal biome and are critical for global climate regulation. They also regulate regional climate through heat and water vapour exchange with the atmosphere. Understanding how land-atmosphere interactions in peatlands differ from forests may therefore be crucial for modelling boreal climate system dynamics and for assessing climate benefits of peatland conservation and restoration. To assess the biophysical impacts of peatlands and forests on peak growing season air temperature and humidity, we analysed surface energy fluxes and albedo from 35 peatlands and 37 evergreen needleleaf forests - the dominant boreal forest type - and simulated air temperature and vapour pressure deficit (VPD) over hypothetical homogeneous peatland and forest landscapes. We ran an evapotranspiration model using land surface parameters derived from energy flux observations and coupled an analytical solution for the surface energy balance to an atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) model. We found that peatlands, compared to forests, are characterized by higher growing season albedo, lower aerodynamic conductance, and higher surface conductance for an equivalent VPD. This combination of peatland surface properties results in a ∼20% decrease in afternoon ABL height, a cooling (from 1.7 to 2.5 °C) in afternoon air temperatures, and a decrease in afternoon VPD (from 0.4 to 0.7 kPa) for peatland landscapes compared to forest landscapes. These biophysical climate impacts of peatlands are most pronounced at lower latitudes (∼45°N) and decrease toward the northern limit of the boreal biome (∼70°N). Thus, boreal peatlands have the potential to mitigate the effect of regional climate warming during the growing season. The biophysical climate mitigation potential of peatlands needs to be accounted for when projecting the future climate of the boreal biome, when assessing the climate benefits of conserving pristine boreal peatlands, and when restoring peatlands that have experienced peatland drainage and mining. © 2020 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd. (Less)


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The initial three years of carbon dioxide exchange between the atmosphere and a reclaimed oil sand wetland
M. Graham Clark, Elyn Humphreys, Sean K. Carey
Ecological Engineering, Volume 135

Abstract Northern peatlands contain up to 20% of the ∼3000 Pg of global soil organic carbon. Carbon-rich peatlands cover upwards of 65% of the landscape in northern Canada where resource extraction activities disturb both the carbon pools and the future carbon sequestration capacity of the landscape. Previous estimates of the carbon losses from this disturbance predict a complete loss of the region’s peatland carbon pool. Mining industries operating in these sensitive environments have recently begun constructing closure landscapes which are intended to develop carbon cycle processes similar to undisturbed northern peatlands. This study investigates eddy covariance fluxes of carbon dioxide (CO2) at one of Canada’s first fully constructed boreal plains watersheds, the Sandhill Fen Watershed. During the first three years since inception, only the lowland region had an annual net ecosystem exchange of CO2 (NEE) indicative of increasing CO2 sink potential. The lowland region was characterized by saturated salvaged peat soils, standing water, thriving communities of Typha and Carex spp. and was a net CO2 sink of 77 g C m−2 in the third year. At the same time the upland and the midland regions characterized by moist salvaged peat soils and a mix of herbaceous, shrub and planted Picea glauca and Pinus banksiana remained net sources of CO2. Despite similar rates of gross primary production, ecosystem and plot-level respiration rates in the lowland were significantly lower than in the midland region, likely due to very low reduction potentials within the lowland’s saturated soils. With no other significant outflows of carbon, the lowland of the Sandhill Fen Watershed may be in the early stages of organic matter accumulation. Due to limited oxidation of the salvaged peat substrate in the lowland region, wetland reclamation employing these techniques may reduce the disturbance loss of the carbon pool in the boreal plains.

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Monthly gridded data product of northern wetland methane emissions based on upscaling eddy covariance observations
Olli Peltola, Timo Vesala, Yao Gao, Olle Räty, Pavel Alekseychik, Mika Aurela, Bogdan H. Chojnicki, Ankur R. Desai, A. J. Dolman, Eugénie Euskirchen, Thomas Friborg, Mathias Göckede, Manuel Helbig, Elyn Humphreys, Robert B. Jackson, Georg Jocher, Fortunat Joos, Janina Klatt, Sara Knox, Natalia Kowalska, Lars Kutzbach, Sebastian Lienert, Annalea Lohila, Ivan Mammarella, Daniel F. Nadeau, Mats Nilsson, Walter C. Oechel, Matthias Peichl, Thomas G. Pypker, William L. Quinton, Janne Rinne, Torsten Sachs, Mateusz Samson, Hans Peter Schmid, Oliver Sonnentag, Christian Wille, Donatella Zona, Tuula Aalto
Earth System Science Data, Volume 11, Issue 3

Abstract. Natural wetlands constitute the largest and most uncertain source of methane (CH4) to the atmosphere and a large fraction of them are found in the northern latitudes. These emissions are typically estimated using process (“bottom-up”) or inversion (“top-down”) models. However, estimates from these two types of models are not independent of each other since the top-down estimates usually rely on the a priori estimation of these emissions obtained with process models. Hence, independent spatially explicit validation data are needed. Here we utilize a random forest (RF) machine-learning technique to upscale CH4 eddy covariance flux measurements from 25 sites to estimate CH4 wetland emissions from the northern latitudes (north of 45∘ N). Eddy covariance data from 2005 to 2016 are used for model development. The model is then used to predict emissions during 2013 and 2014. The predictive performance of the RF model is evaluated using a leave-one-site-out cross-validation scheme. The performance (Nash–Sutcliffe model efficiency =0.47) is comparable to previous studies upscaling net ecosystem exchange of carbon dioxide and studies comparing process model output against site-level CH4 emission data. The global distribution of wetlands is one major source of uncertainty for upscaling CH4. Thus, three wetland distribution maps are utilized in the upscaling. Depending on the wetland distribution map, the annual emissions for the northern wetlands yield 32 (22.3–41.2, 95 % confidence interval calculated from a RF model ensemble), 31 (21.4–39.9) or 38 (25.9–49.5) Tg(CH4) yr−1. To further evaluate the uncertainties of the upscaled CH4 flux data products we also compared them against output from two process models (LPX-Bern and WetCHARTs), and methodological issues related to CH4 flux upscaling are discussed. The monthly upscaled CH4 flux data products are available at https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2560163 (Peltola et al., 2019).


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Environmental and taxonomic controls of carbon and oxygen stable isotope composition in <i>Sphagnum</i> across broad climatic and geographic ranges
Gustaf Granath, Håkan Rydin, Jennifer L. Baltzer, Fia Bengtsson, Nicholas Boncek, Luca Bragazza, Zhao‐Jun Bu, S. J. M. Caporn, Ellen Dorrepaal, О. В. Галанина, Mariusz Gałka, Anna Ganeva, David P. Gillikin, Irina Goia, N. D. Goncharova, Michal Hájek, Akira Haraguchi, Lorna I. Harris, Elyn Humphreys, Martin Jiroušek, Katarzyna Kajukało, Edgar Karofeld, Natalia G. Koronatova, Natalia P. Kosykh, Mariusz Lamentowicz, Е. Д. Лапшина, Juul Limpens, Maiju Linkosalmi, Jinze Ma, Marguerite Mauritz, Tariq Muhammad Munir, Susan M. Natali, Rayna Natcheva, Maria​ Noskova, Richard J. Payne, Kyle Pilkington, Sean M. Robinson, Bjorn J. M. Robroek, Line Rochefort, David Singer, Hans K. Stenøien, Eeva‐Stiina Tuittila, Kai Vellak, Anouk Verheyden, J. M. Waddington, Steven K. Rice

Abstract. Rain-fed peatlands are dominated by peat mosses (Sphagnum sp.), which for their growth depend on elements from the atmosphere. As the isotopic composition of carbon (12,13C) and oxygen (16,18O) of these Sphagnum mosses are affected by environmental conditions, the dead Sphagnum tissue accumulated in peat constitutes a potential long-term archive that can be used for climate reconstruction. However, there is a lack of adequate understanding of how isotope values are influenced by environmental conditions, which restricts their current use as environmental and palaeoenvironmental indicators. Here we tested (i) to what extent C and O isotopic variation in living tissue of Sphagnum is species-specific and associated with local hydrological gradients, climatic gradients (evapotranspiration, temperature, precipitation), and elevation; (ii) if the C isotopic signature can be a proxy for net primary productivity (NPP) of Sphagnum; and (iii) to what extent Sphagnum tissue δ18O tracks the δ18O isotope signature of precipitation. In total, we analysed 337 samples from 93 sites across North America and Eurasia using two important peat-forming Sphagnum species (S. magellanicum, S. fuscum) common to the Holartic realm. There were differences in δ13C values between species. For S. magellanicum δ13C decreased with increasing height above the water table (HWT, R2 = 17 %) and was positively correlated to productivity (R2 = 7 %). Together these two variables explained 46 % of the between-site variation in δ13C values. For S. fuscum, productivity was the only significant predictor of δ13C (total R2 = 6 %). For δ18O values, ca. 90 % of the variation was found between sites. Globally-modelled annual δ18O values in precipitation explained 69% of the between-site variation in tissue δ18O. S. magellanicum showed lower δ18O enrichment than S. fuscum (−0.83 ‰ lower) . Elevation and climatic variables were weak predictors of tissue δ18O values after controlling for δ18O values of the precipitation. To summarise, our study provides evidence for (a) good predictability of tissue δ18O values from modelled annual δ18O values in precipitation, and (b) the possibility to relate tissue δ13C values to HWT and NPP, but this appears to be species-dependent. These results suggest that isotope composition can be used at a large scale for climatic reconstructions but that such models should be species-specific.