What explains the year-to-year variation in growing season timing of boreal black spruce forests?
Jennifer L. Baltzer,
Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, Volume 324
Amplified climate warming in high latitudes is expected to affect growing season timing of the vast boreal biome. It is unclear whether the presence of permafrost (perennially frozen ground) might have an influence on changes in growing season timing. This study examined how different environmental variables explained, either directly or indirectly, the variation in growing season timing of boreal forest stands with and without permafrost. We expected that environmental variables explaining the variation in growing season timing differed or had different explanatory power depending on permafrost presence or absence. The growing season was delineated from daily gross primary productivity (GPP) time series derived from 40 site-year data of net ecosystem carbon dioxide exchange measured with eddy covariance techniques over five black spruce (Picea mariana [Mill.])-dominated boreal forest stands in North America. In permafrost-free forest stands, a combination of start in canopy ‘green-up’ in spring and the timing of air and soil temperature increasing above freezing explained the start-of-season (SOSGPP). Results from commonality analysis and structural equation modeling suggest that canopy ‘green-up’ and air temperature directly affected SOSGPP in permafrost-free forest stands. In addition, soil temperature acted as mediator for an indirect effect of air temperature on SOSGPP. In contrast, none of the environmental variables, or their combination, explained the variation in SOSGPP in forest stands with permafrost. The explanatory power of environmental variables was more consistent regarding the end-of-season (EOSGPP). In both, forest stands with and without permafrost, EOSGPP was directly explained by mean soil water content in the fall and the first day of continuous snowpack formation. A better understanding how environmental variables control SOSGPP and EOSGPP in forest stands with and without permafrost will help to refine parameterizations of the boreal biome in Earth system models.
L-Band response to freeze/thaw in a boreal forest stand from ground- and tower-based radiometer observations
Alan G. Barr,
Remote Sensing of Environment, Volume 237
Abstract The extent, timing and duration of seasonal freeze/thaw (FT) state exerts dominant control on boreal forest carbon, water and energy cycle processes. Recent and on-going L-Band (≈1.4 GHz) spaceborne missions have the potential to provide enhanced information on FT state over large geographic regions with rapid revisit time. However, the low spatial resolution of these spaceborne observations (≈45 km) makes it difficult to isolate the primary contributions (soil, vegetation, snow) to the FT signal in boreal forest. To better quantify these controls, two L-Band radiometers were deployed (September 2016 to July 2017) at a black spruce (Picea mariana) dominated boreal forest site; one unit above and one unit on the ground surface below the canopy to disentangle the microwave contributions of overstory canopy, and the ground surface on the FT brightness temperature (TB) signal. Bi-weekly multi-angular measurements from both units were combined in order to estimate effective scattering albedo (ω) and the microwave vegetative optical depth (τ), using the τ-ω microwave vegetation radiative transfer model. Soil moisture probes were inserted in the trunk of two black spruce and one larch (Larix laricina) trunks located in the footprint of the above-canopy radiometer to measure tree trunk relative dielectric constant (RDCtree). Results showed a strong relationship between RDCtree and tree skin temperature (Ttree) under freezing temperature conditions, which led to a gradual decrease of τ in winter. During the spring thawing period in April and May, τ remained relatively stable. In contrast, it increased substantially in June, most likely in relation to the growing season onset. Overall, τ was related to the seasonal RDCtree cycle (r = 0.76). Regarding ω, a value of 0.086 (±0.029) was obtained, but no dependency on Ttree or RDCtree was observed. Despite the observed impact of FT on vegetation L-Band signals, results from continuous TB observations spanning from 14 September 2016 to 25 May 2017, indicated that the main contribution to the observed L-Band TB freeze-up signal in the fall originated from the ground surface. The above-canopy unit showed some sensitivity to overstory canopy FT, yet the sensitivity was lower compared to the signal induced by the ground FT. In April and May, L-Band radiometer FT retrieval agreed closely to the melt onset detection using RDCtree but it was likely related to the coincident presence of liquid water in the snow. Our findings have important applications to L-Band spaceborne FT algorithm development and validation across the boreal forest. More specifically, our findings allow better quantification of the potential effect of frozen ground on various biogeophysical and biogeochemical processes in boreal forests.