Changes in Landscape-level Carbon Balance of an Arctic Coastal Plain Tundra Ecosystem Between 1970-2100, in Response to Projected Climate Change

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 4:45 PM
Mark J Lara1, Anthony David McGuire2, Eugenie Susanne Euskirchen1, Helene Genet1, Victoria L Sloan3, Colleen M. Iversen4, Richard J Norby5, Yujin Zhang1 and Fengming Yuan6, (1)University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, United States, (2)University of Alaska Fairbanks, Institute of Arctic Biology, Fairbanks, AK, United States, (3)ORNL, Bristol, United Kingdom, (4)Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN, United States, (5)Oak Ridge National Lab, Oak Ridge, TN, United States, (6)ORNL, Oak Ridge, TN, United States
Northern permafrost regions are estimated to cover 16% of the global soil area and account for approximately 50% of the global belowground organic carbon pool. However, there are considerable uncertainties regarding the fate of this soil carbon pool with projected climate warming over the next century. In northern Alaska, nearly 65% of the terrestrial surface is composed of polygonal tundra, where geomorphic land cover types such as high-, flat-, and low-center polygons influence local surface hydrology, plant community composition, nutrient and biogeochemical cycling, over small spatial scales. Due to the lack of representation of these fine-scale geomorphic types and ecosystem processes, in large-scale terrestrial ecosystem models, future uncertainties are large for this tundra region. In this study, we use a new version of the terrestrial ecosystem model (TEM), that couples a dynamic vegetation model (in which plant functional types compete for water, nitrogen, and light) with a dynamic soil organic model (in which temperature, moisture, and associated organic/inorganic carbon and nitrogen pools/fluxes vary together in vertically resolved layers) to simulate ecosystem carbon balance. We parameterized and calibrated this model using data specific to the local climate, vegetation, and soil associated with tundra geomorphic types. We extrapolate model results at a 1km2 resolution across the ~1800 km2 Barrow Peninsula using a tundra geomorphology map, describing ten dominant geomorphic tundra types (Lara et al. submitted), to estimate the likely change in landscape-level carbon balance between 1970 and 2100 in response to projected climate change. Preliminary model runs for this region indicated temporal variability in carbon and active layer dynamics, specific to tundra geomorphic type over time. Overall, results suggest that it is important to consider small-scale discrete polygonal tundra geomorphic types that control local structure and function in regional estimates of carbon balance in northern Alaska.