Impacts of a decadal drainage disturbance on surface-atmosphere fluxes of carbon dioxide in a permafrost ecosystem

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Hydrologic conditions are a major controlling factor for carbon exchange processes in high-latitude ecosystems. The presence or absence of water-logged conditions can lead to significant shifts in ecosystem structure and carbon cycle processes. In this study, we compared growing season CO<sub>2</sub> fluxes of a wet tussock tundra ecosystem from an area affected by decadal drainage and an undisturbed area on the Kolyma floodplain in northeastern Siberia. For this comparison we found the CO<sub>2</sub> uptake to be systematically reduced within the drained area, with a minor increase in photosynthetic uptake due to a higher abundance of shrubs outweighed by a more pronounced increase in respiration due to warmer near-surface soil layers. Carbon dioxide exchange with the atmosphere over this disturbed part of the tundra has rebounded from the strong reduction of fluxes immediately following the drainage disturbance in 2005. This indicates that the local permafrost ecosystem is capable of adapting to significantly different hydrologic conditions without losing its capacity to act as a net sink for CO<sub>2</sub> over the growing season. The comparison of undisturbed CO<sub>2</sub> flux rates from 2013&ndash;2015 to the period of 2002&ndash;2004 indicates that overall CO<sub>2</sub> exchange with the atmosphere was intensified. Analyzing trends in component fluxes (ecosystem respiration and gross primary production) over the past decade, we found that net changes in CO<sub>2</sub> exchange fluxes are dominated by a major increase in photosynthetic uptake, resulting in a stronger CO<sub>2</sub> sink in 2013&ndash;2015. Application of a MODIS-based classification scheme to separate the growing season into four sub-seasons improved the interpretation of interannual variability, and helps in illustrating the systematic shifts in CO<sub>2</sub> uptake patterns that have occurred in this ecosystem over the past 10 years.




Kittler, F., Burjack, I., Corradi, C. A. R., Heimann, M., Kolle, O., Merbold, L., … Göckede, M. (2016). Impacts of a decadal drainage disturbance on surface-atmosphere fluxes of carbon dioxide in a permafrost ecosystem. Biogeosciences, 13(18), 5315–5332.

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