Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2012

Publication Title

Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research

DOI

10.1657/1938-4246-44.4.457

Abstract

Carbon dynamics of high latitude regions are an important and highly uncertain component of global carbon budgets, and efforts to constrain estimates of soil-atmosphere carbon exchange in these regions are contingent on accurate representations of spatial and temporal variability in carbon fluxes. This study explores spatial and temporal variability in soil-atmosphere carbon dynamics at both fine and coarse spatial scales in a high-elevation, permafrost-dominated boreal black spruce forest. We evaluate the importance of landscape level investigations of soil-atmosphere carbon dynamics by characterizing seasonal trends in soil-atmosphere carbon exchange, describing soil temperature-moisture-respiration relations, and quantifying temporal and spatial variability at two spatial scales: the plot scale (0-5m) and the landscape scale (500-1000m). Plot-scale spatial variability (average variation on a given measurement day) in soil CO2 efflux ranged from a coefficient of variation (CV) 0.25 to 0.69, and plot-scale temporal variability (average variation of plots across measurement days) in efflux ranged from a CV of 0.19 to 0.36. Landscape-scale spatial and temporal variability in efflux was represented by a CV of 0.40 and 0.31 respectively, indicating that plot-scale spatial variability in soil respiration is as great as landscape-scale spatial variability at this site. While soil respiration was related to soil temperature at both the plot and landscape-scale, landscape level descriptions of soil moisture were necessary to define soil respiration-moisture relations. Soil moisture variability was also integral to explaining temporal variability in soil respiration. Our results have important implications for research efforts in high latitude regions where remote study sites make landscape-scale field campaigns challenging.

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