Tundra is a consistent source of CO2 at a site with progressive permafrost thaw during six years of chamber and eddy covariance measurements

Published by Ecoss on

Current and future warming of high latitude ecosystems will play an important role in climate change through feedbacks to the global carbon cycle. This study compares six years of CO2 flux measurements in moist acidic tundra using autochambers and eddy covariance (Tower) approaches. We found that the tundra was an annual source of CO2 to the atmosphere as indicated by net ecosystem exchange using both methods with a combined mean of 105 +/- 17 g CO2 – C m-2 y-1 across methods and years (Tower 87 +/- 17 and Autochamber 123 +/- 14). The difference between methods was largest early in the observation period, with Autochambers indicated a greater CO2 source to the atmosphere. This discrepancy diminished through time and in the final year the Autochambers measured a greater sink strength than tower. Active layer thickness (ALT) was a significant driver of NEE, GPP, and R eco and could account for differences between Autochamber and Tower. The stronger source initially was attributed lower summer season gross primary production (GPP) during the first three years, coupled with lower ecosystem respiration (R eco) during the first year. The combined suppression of GPP and R eco in the first year of Autochamber measurements could be the result of the experimental setup. Root damage associated with Autochamber soil collar installation may have lowered the plant community’s capacity to fix C, but recovered within three years. While this ecosystem was a consistent CO2 sink during the summer, CO2 emissions during the non-summer months offset summer CO2 uptake each year.