Peter M. Lafleur


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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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Range shifts in a foundation sedge potentially induce large Arctic ecosystem carbon losses and gains
Salvatore R. Curasi, Ned Fetcher, Rebecca E. Hewitt, Peter M. Lafleur, M. M. Loranty, Michelle C. Mack, Jeremy L. May, Isla H. Myers‐Smith, Susan M. Natali, Steven F. Oberbauer, Thomas C. Parker, Oliver Sonnentag, S. A. Vargas Zesati, Stan D. Wullschleger, A. V. Rocha
Environmental Research Letters, Volume 17, Issue 4

Abstract Foundation species have disproportionately large impacts on ecosystem structure and function. As a result, future changes to their distribution may be important determinants of ecosystem carbon (C) cycling in a warmer world. We assessed the role of a foundation tussock sedge ( Eriophorum vaginatum ) as a climatically vulnerable C stock using field data, a machine learning ecological niche model, and an ensemble of terrestrial biosphere models (TBMs). Field data indicated that tussock density has decreased by ~0.97 tussocks per m2 over the past ~38 years on Alaska’s North Slope from ~1981 to 2019. This declining trend is concerning because tussocks are a large Arctic C stock, which enhances soil organic layer C stocks by 6.9% on average and represents 745 Tg C across our study area. By 2100, we project that changes in tussock density may decrease the tussock C stock by 41% in regions where tussocks are currently abundant (e.g. -0.8 tussocks per m2 and -85 Tg C on the North Slope) and may increase the tussock C stock by 46% in regions where tussocks are currently scarce (e.g. +0.9 tussocks per m2 and +81 Tg C on Victoria Island). These climate-induced changes to the tussock C stock were comparable to, but sometimes opposite in sign, to vegetation C stock changes predicted by an ensemble of TBMs. Our results illustrate the important role of tussocks as a foundation species in determining future Arctic C stocks and highlights the need for better representation of this species in TBMs.

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Hydrology of peat estimated from near-surface water contents
Dimitre D. Dimitrov, Peter M. Lafleur, Oliver Sonnentag, Julie Talbot, William L. Quinton
Hydrological Sciences Journal, Volume 67, Issue 11

ABSTRACT Simple and robust hydrological modelling is critical for peat studies as water content (θ) and water table depth (d WT) are key controls on many biogeochemical processes. We show that near-surface θ can be a good predictor of θ at any depth and/or d WT in peat. This was achieved by further developing the formulae of an existing model and applying it for Mer Bleue bog (Ontario, Canada) and a permafrost peat plateau at Scotty Creek (Northwest Territories, Canada). Simulated θ dynamics at various depths in hummocks and hollows at both sites matched observations with R2 , Willmott’s index of agreement (d), and normalized Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency coefficient (NNSE), reaching 0.97, 0.95, and 0.86, respectively. Simulated bog WT dynamics matched observations with R2 , d, and NNSE reaching 0.67, 0.87, and 0.72. Our approach circumvents the difficulties of measuring subsurface hydrology and reveals a perspective for large spatial scale estimation of θ and d WT in peat.

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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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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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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.