Nav: Home

Wetlands are key for accurate greenhouse gas measurements in the Arctic

September 11, 2018

The Arctic is rapidly warming, with stronger effects than observed elsewhere in the world. The Arctic regions are particularly important with respect to climate change, as permafrost soils store huge amounts of the Earth's soil carbon (C). Warming of Arctic soils and thawing of permafrost can have substantial consequences for the global climate, as the large C stored in soils could be released to the atmosphere as the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). The release of these heat-trapping gases, in turn, has the potential to further enhance climate warming.

Determining whether the Arctic is continuing to take up carbon from the atmosphere or instead releasing it to the atmosphere is an urgent research priority, particularly as the climate warms. A new study by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland now provides the first estimate of regional carbon budget for tundra in Western Russia for the 10-year period from 2006 to 2015. The researchers found that over the past decade, the region has likely remained a net carbon sink, sequestering atmospheric CO2 through plant uptake and growth. This signal varied little between all the years and was particularly strong in wetlands, which were "hotspots" for carbon uptake. Wetlands are also "hotspots" of methane emissions in the region, making the identification of wetlands essential for determining the regional carbon budget. However, it remains challenging to determine the area of tundra wetlands at broader scales because they can be difficult to identify from satellite images, requiring many measurements on the ground to verify their locations.

Due to harsh winter conditions, making measurements throughout the year in tundra sites is exceptionally difficult. Few measurements have been made, making the assessment of the Arctic carbon balance challenging. Previously, researchers from the Biogeochemistry research group at the University of Eastern Finland have measured carbon balance in Western Russia during four growing seasons, but also during more rarely studied periods the spring, fall and winter, laying the groundwork for a longer-term assessment of whether the site has continued to take up atmospheric carbon. Now, the researchers from this group are evaluating just that: is this region a net carbon sink over a decade and why or why not?

"In many major research projects, a synthesis of the data collected by using models is always left to be done in the last phase. Owing to time limitations, this important task generally remains unaccomplished. To that end, we are proud that this work signifies an important achievement," Dr Narasinha Shurpali from the University of Eastern Finland says.

The results, based on model simulations with various ecosystem models, were recently published in Global Change Biology - a leading journal in environmental science. The research was embedded within international, Nordic and European funded projects, mainly the Academy of Finland CAPTURE Project (coordinated by Prof. Atte Korhola, University of Helsinki), EU funded CARBO-North project (coordinated by Dr. Peter Kuhry, Stockholm University), the Nordic Center of Excellence DEFROST (coordinated by Prof. T. R. Christensen, Lund University, Sweden) and European Union project PAGE21 (coordinated by H. W. Hubberten, Alfred Wegener Institute, Potsdam, Germany), University of Eastern Finland strategic funding (project FiWER), and JPI Climate project COUP.
-end-
For further information, please contact:

Dr Narasinha Shurpali (Senior Scientist), tel: +358 40 355 3321 narasinha.shurpali@uef.fi (English)

Dr Claire Treat (Postdoctoral Researcher), claire.treat@uef.fi (English)

Dr Maija Marushchak (Postdoctoral Researcher), tel: +358 504135442, maija.marushchak@uef.fi (English, Finnish)

Research article:

Treat, Claire C., M.E. Marushchak, C. Voigt, Y. Zhang, Z. Tan, Q. Zhuang, T.A. Virtanen, A. Räsänen, C. Biasi, G. Hugelius, D. Kaverin, P. A. Miller, M. Stendel, V. Romanovsky, F. Rivkin, P.J. Martikainen, N.J. Shurpali (2018). Tundra landscape heterogeneity, not inter-annual variability, controls the decadal regional carbon balance in the Western Russian Arctic, Global Change Biology, doi: 10.1111/gcb.14421

University of Eastern Finland

Related Climate Change Articles:

The black forest and climate change
Silver and Douglas firs could replace Norway spruce in the long run due to their greater resistance to droughts.
For some US counties, climate change will be particularly costly
A highly granular assessment of the impacts of climate change on the US economy suggests that each 1°Celsius increase in temperature will cost 1.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product, on average.
Climate change label leads to climate science acceptance
A new Cornell University study finds that labels matter when it comes to acceptance of climate science.
Was that climate change?
A new four-step 'framework' aims to test the contribution of climate change to record-setting extreme weather events.
It's more than just climate change
Accurately modeling climate change and interactive human factors -- including inequality, consumption, and population -- is essential for the effective science-based policies and measures needed to benefit and sustain current and future generations.
Climate change scientists should think more about sex
Climate change can have a different impact on male and female fish, shellfish and other marine animals, with widespread implications for the future of marine life and the production of seafood.
Climate change prompts Alaska fish to change breeding behavior
A new University of Washington study finds that one of Alaska's most abundant freshwater fish species is altering its breeding patterns in response to climate change, which could impact the ecology of northern lakes that already acutely feel the effects of a changing climate.
Uncertainties related to climate engineering limit its use in curbing climate change
Climate engineering refers to the systematic, large-scale modification of the environment using various climate intervention techniques.
Public holds polarized views about climate change and trust in climate scientists
There are gaping divisions in Americans' views across every dimension of the climate debate, including causes and cures for climate change and trust in climate scientists and their research, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
The psychology behind climate change denial
In a new thesis in psychology, Kirsti Jylhä at Uppsala University has studied the psychology behind climate change denial.

Related Climate Change Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...