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Climate change impacts on the sensitive system permafrost-vegetation: spatial variability of active layer thickness, vegetation and CO2 fluxes (SPA - ALVECO)

Polar regions are extremely climate sensitive, and are thus predicted to be more susceptible to climate change impacts than other regions. Feedbacks to climate through changes in litter turnover and carbon stocks have been forecasted at a global scale for the 21st century. More carbon is stored in the world’s soils—including peatlands, wetlands and

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Project date

Starts
2012-01-01

Ends
2020-12-31

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Project type

  • field work
  • long-term monitoring
  • sios

Discipline

  • atmosphere
  • terrestrial biology

Project Keywords

  • biosphere / terrestrial ecosystems / alpine/tundra
  • biosphere / vegetation / carbon
  • cryosphere / frozen ground / permafrost
  • cryosphere / frozen ground / active layer

Fieldwork information

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Type Period From To Coordinates Station Location
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Summary

Polar regions are extremely climate sensitive, and are thus predicted to be more susceptible to climate change impacts than other regions. Feedbacks to climate through changes in litter turnover and carbon stocks have been forecasted at a global scale for the 21st century. More carbon is stored in the world’s soils—including peatlands, wetlands and permafrost—than is present in the atmosphere. However, the effects of climate change on global soil carbon stocks are still unclear, with potentially positive feedbacks if warming accelerates soil carbon decomposition, and conversely negative feedbacks if plant-derived carbon inputs exceed decomposition. Both plants and soils, including permafrost, are key environmental components determining ecosystem CO2 flux; moreover, their C cycling processes (primary production, decomposition, respiration) are influenced by climate change via increases in temperature, permafrost thaw, and soil moisture. It is becoming increasingly important to understand whether climate change will turn cold biomes from large long-term carbon sinks into sources, a topic that is still hotly debated because of the great potential for ecosystem-mediated feedbacks to climate. In this project we aim to analyse the spatial variability of soil CO2 emission measured under different active layer (thickness and thermal regime) and vegetation conditions in Ny Ålesund (close and around the CCTower) and Brogger Peninsula area to assess whether active layer conditions, vegetation type and soil conditions may influence the spatial variability of CO2 fluxes.

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