Comparison of CH4 Emission and CO2 Exchange Between 2013 and 2014 in a Subarctic Peatland
Monday, 15 December 2014
One of the major concerns with climate change is the potential feedback from the emission of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), from high latitude thawing organic soils. With increasing temperatures in Arctic regions, thawing permafrost palsas transition to wetter sedge-dominated wetlands, which account for 20-39% of global atmospheric CH4 burden. This rapid change in habitat raises the following question: how do CO2 exchange rates and CH4 emissions change along a gradient of permafrost thaw and what is the interannual variability in these fluxes? To address this question, we measured CO2 exchange, CH4 flux, vegetative type and vascular green area (VGA) along a thaw gradient during July of 2013 and 2014 in Stordalen Mire, Sweden. Environmental variables showed that 2013 and 2014 were climatically different; higher photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) and measurements of water table level and temperature showed that 2014 was warmer and drier than 2013. Warmer conditions led to higher rates of respiration and gross primary productivity (GPP), with the largest increases observed in the palsa sites, likely due to an increase in mean temperature. Methane fluxes showed a less consistent response to climate differences between years, fluxes were higher in 2014 in the mostly inundated Eriophorum angustifolium dominated site and lower in the drier Sphagnum and Eriophorum vaginatum dominated sites. Results of this study highlight the need for accounting for interannual variability when predicting greenhouse gas emissions during permafrost thaw.