HIGH LATITUDE FOREST DYNAMICS – CO2 EXCHANGE MEASUREMENTS AND FOREST GROWTH AT THE ALTITUDINAL FOREST LINE IN HIGH SUBARCTIC FINNISH LAPLAND
Abstract:Forests in high subarctic fell regions of Fennoscandia belong to the most northern forests in the world, a dynamic ecosystem vulnerable under a changing climate with treelines moving further north and also higher up slopes. An ecosystem is characterised by the interaction between micrometeorology, macroecology and the underlying terrain and topography. The current study is carried out at 68° North (Värriö strict nature reserve), the most sensitive zone of the high subarctic in Finnish Lapland. As the treeline is climbing up the slopes trees and eventually forests establish along the slopes leading to a greening of the area (“Greening of the Arctic” effect) and to an increase in CO2 uptake, also as a result of rising air temperatures and Nitrogen fertilization effects. Such developments and the little grazing (in this area) are leading to an increase in photosynthesising biomass. In order to fully understand the atmosphere – forest interaction in the fell region of Finnish Lapland, several important aspects are taken in consideration: its high latitudinal location, on-going climate change, polar day, its topographic characteristic and the dynamic of the progressing tree line. All these physiognomies cumulate in the capacity and efficiency of high latitude biomes in converting energy into photosynthate and contributing to removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.
Carrying out CO2 and energy exchange measurements at ecosystem level in such extreme environments are challenging in particular when trying to follow and fulfil established assumptions set out by the application of the eddy covariance technique. Results from the first four consecutive snow free growing seasons show this site to act as a sink for atmospheric CO2. We are investigating the orographic effect on the observed fluxes and evaluate the performance of the flux setup determining if the topography has any systematic effects on fluxes or whether its external properties bias the carbon balance.