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Journal Article

Scaling and balancing carbon dioxide fluxes in a heterogeneous tundra ecosystem of the Lena River Delta

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Rößger, N., Wille, C., Holl, D., Göckede, M., & Kutzbach, L. (2019). Scaling and balancing carbon dioxide fluxes in a heterogeneous tundra ecosystem of the Lena River Delta. Biogeosciences, 16, 2591-2615. doi:10.5194/bg-16-2591-2019.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-9B61-0
The current assessments of the carbon turnover in the Arctic tundra are subject to large uncertainties. This problem can (inter alia) be ascribed to both the general shortage of flux data from the vast and sparsely inhabited Arctic region, as well as the typically high spatiotemporal variability of carbon fluxes in tundra ecosystems. Addressing these challenges, carbon dioxide fluxes on an active flood plain situated in the Siberian Lena River Delta were studied during two growing seasons with the eddy covariance method. The footprint exhibited a heterogeneous surface, which generated mixed flux signals that could be partitioned in such a way that both respiratory loss and photosynthetic gain were obtained for each of two vegetation classes. This downscaling of the observed fluxes revealed a differing seasonality in the net uptake of bushes (−0.89 µmol m−2 s−1) and sedges (−0.38 µmol mm−2 s−1) in 2014. That discrepancy, which was concealed in the net signal, resulted from a comparatively warm spring in conjunction with an early snowmelt and a varying canopy structure. Thus, the representativeness of footprints may adversely be affected in response to prolonged unusual weather conditions. In 2015, when air temperatures on average corresponded to climatological means, both vegetation-class-specific flux rates were of similar magnitude (−0.69 µmol m−2 s−1). A comprehensive set of measures (e.g. phenocam) corroborated the reliability of the partitioned fluxes and hence confirmed the utility of flux decomposition for enhanced flux data analysis. This scrutiny encompassed insights into both the phenological dynamic of individual vegetation classes and their respective functional flux to flux driver relationships with the aid of ecophysiologically interpretable parameters. For comparison with other sites, the decomposed fluxes were employed in a vegetation class area-weighted upscaling that was based on a classified high-resolution orthomosaic of the flood plain. In this way, robust budgets that take the heterogeneous surface characteristics into account were estimated. In relation to the average sink strength of various Arctic flux sites, the flood plain constitutes a distinctly stronger carbon dioxide sink. Roughly 42 % of this net uptake, however, was on average offset by methane emissions lowering the sink strength for greenhouse gases. With growing concern about rising greenhouse gas emissions in high-latitude regions, providing robust carbon budgets from tundra ecosystems is critical in view of accelerating permafrost thaw, which can impact the global climate for centuries.