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TitleShallow soils are warmer under trees and tall shrubs across Arctic and Boreal ecosystems
AuthorKropp, H; Loranty, M M; Natali, S M; Kholodov, A L; Rocha, A V; Myers-Smith, I; Abbot, B W; Abermann, J; Blanc-Betes, E; Blok, D; Blume-Werry, G; Boike, J; Breen, A L; Cahoon, S M P; Christiansen, C T; Douglas, T A; Epstein, H E; Frost, G V; Goeckede, M; Hoye, T T; Mamet, S D; O'Donnell, J A; Olefeldt, D; Phoenix, G K; Salmon, V G; Sannel, A B K; Smith, S LORCID logo; Sonnentag, O; Vaughn, L S; Williams, M; Elberling, B; Gough, L; Hjort, J; Lafleur, P M; Euskirchen, E S; Heijmans, M M P D; Humphreys, E R; Iwata, H; Jones, B M; Jorgenson, M T; Grünberg,; Kim, Y; Laundre, J; Mauritz, M; Michelsen, A; Schaepman-Strub, G; Tape, K D; Ueyama, M; Lee, B-Y; Langley, K; Lund, M
SourceEnvironmental Research Letters vol. 16, no. 1, 015001, 2020 p. 1-13, Open Access logo Open Access
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20200069
PublisherIOP Publishing Ltd
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf; html
ProvinceCanada; Northwest Territories; Nunavut; Yukon; Quebec; Newfoundland and Labrador
NTS15; 16; 25; 26; 27; 28; 29; 35; 36; 37; 38; 39; 45; 46; 47; 48; 49; 55; 56; 57; 58; 59; 65; 66; 67; 68; 69; 75; 76; 77; 78; 79; 85; 86; 87; 88; 89; 95; 96; 97; 98; 99; 105; 106; 107; 115; 116; 117; 120; 340; 560
AreaArctic; Labrador; Nunavik
Lat/Long WENS-180.0000 180.0000 90.0000 60.0000
Subjectssoils science; environmental geology; Nature and Environment; Science and Technology; permafrost; ground ice; ground temperatures; soils; vegetation; ecosystems; climate effects; thermal regimes; Forests; Climate change; permafrost thaw; cumulative effects
Illustrationssketch maps; tables; plots; time series
ProgramClimate Change Geoscience Permafrost
Released2020 12 18
AbstractSoils 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.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
Vegetation is an important influence on permafrost conditions through its effect on local microclimate and the ground thermal regime. As the climate warms, a greener Arctic is expected including increased shrub growth in tundra regions and northward movement of the treeline, resulting in changes to snow cover and surface energy balances with implications for permafrost environments. In this multi-authored paper, soil temperature data collected across the circumpolar north has been analysed to characterize the influence of vegetation stature on ground thermal regimes in northern environments and the potential changes in permafrost conditions under a warming climate.

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