Convergent ecosystem responses to 23-year ambient and manipulated warming link advancing snowmelt and shrub encroachment to transient and long-term climate-soil carbon feedback

John Harte, Scott Saleska, Charlotte Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Ecosystem responses to climate change can exert positive or negative feedbacks on climate, mediated in part by slow-moving factors such as shifts in vegetation community composition. Long-term experimental manipulations can be used to examine such ecosystem responses, but they also present another opportunity: inferring the extent to which contemporary climate change is responsible for slow changes in ecosystems under ambient conditions. Here, using 23 years of data, we document a shift from nonwoody to woody vegetation and a loss of soil carbon in ambient plots and show that these changes track previously shown similar but faster changes under experimental warming. This allows us to infer that climate change is the cause of the observed shifts in ambient vegetation and soil carbon and that the vegetation responses mediate the observed changes in soil carbon. Our findings demonstrate the realism of an experimental manipulation, allow attribution of a climate cause to observed ambient ecosystem changes, and demonstrate how a combination of long-term study of ambient and experimental responses to warming can identify mechanistic drivers needed for realistic predictions of the conditions under which ecosystems are likely to become carbon sources or sinks over varying timescales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2349-2356
Number of pages8
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Volume21
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

Fingerprint

ecosystem response
snowmelt
soil carbon
Ecosystems
shrub
Carbon
warming
Feedback
Soils
Climate change
vegetation
climate
climate change
ecosystem
community composition
timescale
carbon
prediction
Chemical analysis

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Ecosystem-climate feedback
  • Long-term observation
  • Shrub encroachment
  • Snowmelt
  • Soil carbon model
  • Vegetation
  • Warming experiment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

Cite this

@article{bb9c295b2f8141afa2e8908c2cdcf603,
title = "Convergent ecosystem responses to 23-year ambient and manipulated warming link advancing snowmelt and shrub encroachment to transient and long-term climate-soil carbon feedback",
abstract = "Ecosystem responses to climate change can exert positive or negative feedbacks on climate, mediated in part by slow-moving factors such as shifts in vegetation community composition. Long-term experimental manipulations can be used to examine such ecosystem responses, but they also present another opportunity: inferring the extent to which contemporary climate change is responsible for slow changes in ecosystems under ambient conditions. Here, using 23 years of data, we document a shift from nonwoody to woody vegetation and a loss of soil carbon in ambient plots and show that these changes track previously shown similar but faster changes under experimental warming. This allows us to infer that climate change is the cause of the observed shifts in ambient vegetation and soil carbon and that the vegetation responses mediate the observed changes in soil carbon. Our findings demonstrate the realism of an experimental manipulation, allow attribution of a climate cause to observed ambient ecosystem changes, and demonstrate how a combination of long-term study of ambient and experimental responses to warming can identify mechanistic drivers needed for realistic predictions of the conditions under which ecosystems are likely to become carbon sources or sinks over varying timescales.",
keywords = "Climate change, Ecosystem-climate feedback, Long-term observation, Shrub encroachment, Snowmelt, Soil carbon model, Vegetation, Warming experiment",
author = "John Harte and Scott Saleska and Charlotte Levy",
year = "2015",
month = "6",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1111/gcb.12831",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "21",
pages = "2349--2356",
journal = "Global Change Biology",
issn = "1354-1013",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "6",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Convergent ecosystem responses to 23-year ambient and manipulated warming link advancing snowmelt and shrub encroachment to transient and long-term climate-soil carbon feedback

AU - Harte, John

AU - Saleska, Scott

AU - Levy, Charlotte

PY - 2015/6/1

Y1 - 2015/6/1

N2 - Ecosystem responses to climate change can exert positive or negative feedbacks on climate, mediated in part by slow-moving factors such as shifts in vegetation community composition. Long-term experimental manipulations can be used to examine such ecosystem responses, but they also present another opportunity: inferring the extent to which contemporary climate change is responsible for slow changes in ecosystems under ambient conditions. Here, using 23 years of data, we document a shift from nonwoody to woody vegetation and a loss of soil carbon in ambient plots and show that these changes track previously shown similar but faster changes under experimental warming. This allows us to infer that climate change is the cause of the observed shifts in ambient vegetation and soil carbon and that the vegetation responses mediate the observed changes in soil carbon. Our findings demonstrate the realism of an experimental manipulation, allow attribution of a climate cause to observed ambient ecosystem changes, and demonstrate how a combination of long-term study of ambient and experimental responses to warming can identify mechanistic drivers needed for realistic predictions of the conditions under which ecosystems are likely to become carbon sources or sinks over varying timescales.

AB - Ecosystem responses to climate change can exert positive or negative feedbacks on climate, mediated in part by slow-moving factors such as shifts in vegetation community composition. Long-term experimental manipulations can be used to examine such ecosystem responses, but they also present another opportunity: inferring the extent to which contemporary climate change is responsible for slow changes in ecosystems under ambient conditions. Here, using 23 years of data, we document a shift from nonwoody to woody vegetation and a loss of soil carbon in ambient plots and show that these changes track previously shown similar but faster changes under experimental warming. This allows us to infer that climate change is the cause of the observed shifts in ambient vegetation and soil carbon and that the vegetation responses mediate the observed changes in soil carbon. Our findings demonstrate the realism of an experimental manipulation, allow attribution of a climate cause to observed ambient ecosystem changes, and demonstrate how a combination of long-term study of ambient and experimental responses to warming can identify mechanistic drivers needed for realistic predictions of the conditions under which ecosystems are likely to become carbon sources or sinks over varying timescales.

KW - Climate change

KW - Ecosystem-climate feedback

KW - Long-term observation

KW - Shrub encroachment

KW - Snowmelt

KW - Soil carbon model

KW - Vegetation

KW - Warming experiment

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84928310172&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84928310172&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/gcb.12831

DO - 10.1111/gcb.12831

M3 - Article

C2 - 25504893

AN - SCOPUS:84928310172

VL - 21

SP - 2349

EP - 2356

JO - Global Change Biology

JF - Global Change Biology

SN - 1354-1013

IS - 6

ER -