Winter and early spring CO2 efflux from tundra communities of northern Alaska

J. T. Fahnestock, M. H. Jones, P. D. Brooks, D. A. Walker, J. M. Welker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

128 Scopus citations

Abstract

Carbon dioxide concentrations through snow were measured in different arctic tundra communities on the North Slope of Alaska during winter and early spring of 1996. Subnivean CO2 concentrations were always higher than atmospheric CO2. A steady state diffusion model was used to generate conservative estimates of CO2 flux to the atmosphere. The magnitude of CO2 efflux differed with tundra community type, and rates of carbon release increased from March to May. Winter CO2 efflux was highest in riparian and snow bed communities and lowest in dry heath, upland tussock, and wet sedge communities. Snow generally accrues earlier in winter and is deeper in riparian and snow bed communities compared with other tundra communities, which are typically windswept and do not accumulate much snow during the winter. These results support the hypothesis that early and deep snow accumulation may insulate microbial populations from very cold temperatures, allowing sites with earlier snow cover to sustain higher levels of activity throughout winter compared to communities that have later developing snow cover. Extrapolating our estimates of CO2 efflux to the entire snow-covered season indicates that total carbon flux during winter in the Arctic is 13-109 kg CO2-C ha-1, depending on the vegetation community type. Wintertime CO2 flux is a potentially important, yet largely overlooked, part of the annual carbon cycle of tundra, and carbon release during winter should be accounted for in estimates of annual carbon balance in arctic ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number98JD00805
Pages (from-to)29023-29027
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Volume103
Issue numberD22
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 27 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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    Fahnestock, J. T., Jones, M. H., Brooks, P. D., Walker, D. A., & Welker, J. M. (1998). Winter and early spring CO2 efflux from tundra communities of northern Alaska. Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, 103(D22), 29023-29027. [98JD00805]. https://doi.org/10.1029/98JD00805