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A comparison of annual and seasonal carbon dioxide effluxes between sub-Arctic Sweden and High-Arctic Svalbard

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Recent climate change predictions suggest altered patterns of winter precipitation across the Arctic. It has been suggested that the presence, timing and quantity of snow all affect microbial activity, thus influencing CO2 production in soil. In this study annual and seasonal emissions of CO2 were estimated in High-Arctic Adventdalen, Svalbard, and sub-Arctic Latnjajaure, Sweden, using a new trace gas-based method to track real-time diffusion rates through the snow. Summer measurements from snow-free soils were made using a chamber-based method. Measurements were obtained from different snow regimes in order to evaluate the effect of snow depth on winter CO2 effluxes. Total annual emissions of CO2 from the sub-Arctic site (0.662–1.487 kg CO2 m–2 yr–1) were found to be more than double the emissions from the High-Arctic site (0.369–0.591 kg CO2 m–2 yr–1). There were no significant differences in winter effluxes between snow regimes or vegetation types, indicating that spatial variability in winter soil CO2 effluxes are not directly linked to snow cover thickness or soil temperatures. Total winter emissions (0.004–0.248 kg CO2 m–2) were found to be in the lower range of those previously described in the literature. Winter emissions varied in their contribution to total annual production between 1 and 18%. Artificial snow drifts shortened the snow-free period by 2 weeks and decreased the annual CO2 emission by up to 20%. This study suggests that future shifts in vegetation zones may increase soil respiration from Arctic tundra regions.

Keywords: Arctic; carbon dioxide; snow; soil respiration; tundra; winter

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Norwegian Polar Institute, Polar Environmental Centre, NO-9296 Tromsø, Norway 2: Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, University of Tromsø, NO-9037 Tromsø, Norway 3: Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg, PO Box 461, SE-405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden

Publication date: April 1, 2010

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