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Multiple Ecosystem Effects of Extreme Weather Events in the Arctic

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The Arctic is getting warmer and wetter. Here, we document two independent examples of how associated extreme precipitation patterns have severe implications for high Arctic ecosystems. The events stand out in a 23-year record of continuous observations of a wide range of ecosystem parameters and act as an early indication of conditions projected to increase in the future. In NE Greenland, August 2015, one-quarter of the average annual precipitation fell during a 9-day intensive rain event. This ranked number one for daily sums during the 1996-2018 period and caused a strong and prolonged reduction in solar radiation decreasing CO2 uptake in the order of 18-23 g C m(-2), a reduction comparable to typical annual C budgets in Arctic tundra. In a different type of event, but also due to changed weather patterns, an extreme snow melt season in 2018 triggered a dramatic gully thermokarst causing rapid transformation in ecosystem functioning from consistent annual ecosystem CO2 uptake and low methane exchange to highly elevated methane release, net source of CO2, and substantial export of organic carbon downstream as riverine and coastal input. In addition to climate warming alone, more frequent occurrence of extreme weather patterns will have large implications for otherwise undisturbed tundra ecosystems including their element transport and carbon interactions with the atmosphere and ocean.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEcosystems
Number of pages15
ISSN1432-9840
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - May 2020
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • climate change, extreme events, ecosystem impacts, Arctic ecosystems, long-term observations, SPATIOTEMPORAL VARIABILITY, CLIMATE-CHANGE, TUNDRA, RIVER, SEDIMENT, PERMAFROST, EXCHANGE, METHANE, FLUX, ICE

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ID: 192740666