High Arctic tundra greenhouse gas fluxes: new insights from Adventdalen, Svalbard

Monday, 15 December 2014
Norbert Pirk1,2, Frans-Jan W Parmentier1,3, Mikhail Mastepanov1,3, Hanne H. Christiansen2 and Torben R Christensen1,3, (1)Lund University, Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund, Sweden, (2)University Centre in Svalbard, Longyearbyen, Norway, (3)Arctic Research Centre, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
Data on greenhouse gas (GHG) exchange in high Arctic environments is rare but badly needed, as the environment in these places will likely respond early and most rapidly to climate warming. Also, the high Arctic holds carbon stocks in permafrost that is most likely to be made vulnerable to decomposition as ecosystems get warmer.
In 2011 we established a long-term GHG flux-monitoring site in the Adventdalen valley on the Svalbard archipelago. The site is characterised by little precipitation (about 200 mm/year), a strong marine influence (summer air temperatures predominantly around 5 degrees Celsius), and a continuous permafrost ground with low-centered ice wedge polygons at the surface. The measurement equipment features an eddy-covariance tower and an automatic chamber system, both set up in accordance with already existing monitoring programs (INTERACT, ICOS and the Greenland Ecosystem Monitoring program). Here, we present the first results of this multi-year campaign, such as the pattern of carbon dioxide and methane fluxes during the growing and shoulder seasons, including the recently discovered autumn burst, as well as carbon dioxide fluxes during wintertime.
Carbon dioxide fluxes measured with eddy-covariance agree well with the automatic chamber data, and indicate that the site acts as a sink for carbon dioxide. Methane fluxes measured by the automatic chamber system indicate a significant methane source, which is, however, weaker than at comparable sites in Greenland. There is a high degree of inter-annual variation in methane emissions, which seems to be driven by the amount of precipitation in summer. On top of that, there is a strong spatial variability resembling the polygonal ground pattern. This variability is also reflected in the occurrence of the methane autumn burst, which could be detected and is spatially and temporally distributed at a few locations and years.