Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 118, Issue 3, pp 173–179

Ecosystem development and carbon cycle on a glacier foreland in the high Arctic, Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard


    • Department of Environmental Dynamics and Management, Graduate School of Biosphere ScienceHiroshima University
  • Yukiko Sakata Bekku
    • Department of Primary EducationTsuru University
  • Masaki Uchida
    • Department of BiologyNational Institute of Polar Research
  • Hiroyuki Muraoka
    • Institute for Basin Ecosystem StudiesGifu University
  • Atsushi Kume
    • Department of Environmental Biology and Chemistry, Faculty of ScienceToyama University
  • Toshiyuki Ohtsuka
    • Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of ScienceIbaraki University
  • Takehiro Masuzawa
    • Department of Biology, Faculty of ScienceShizuoka University
  • Hiroshi Kanda
    • Department of BiologyNational Institute of Polar Research
  • Hiroshi Koizumi
    • Institute for Basin Ecosystem StudiesGifu University
Current Topics in Plant Research

DOI: 10.1007/s10265-005-0211-9

Cite this article as:
Nakatsubo, T., Bekku, Y.S., Uchida, M. et al. J Plant Res (2005) 118: 173. doi:10.1007/s10265-005-0211-9


The Arctic terrestrial ecosystem is thought to be extremely susceptible to climate change. However, because of the diverse responses of ecosystem components to change, an overall response of the ecosystem carbon cycle to climate change is still hard to predict. In this review, we focus on several recent studies conducted to clarify the pattern of the carbon cycle on the deglaciated area of Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard in the high Arctic. Vegetation cover and soil carbon pools tended to increase with the progress of succession. However, even in the latter stages of succession, the size of the soil carbon pool was much smaller than those reported for the low Arctic tundra. Cryptogams contributed the major proportion of phytomass in the later stages. However, because of water limitation, their net primary production was smaller than that of the vascular plants. The compartment model that incorporated major carbon pools and flows suggested that the ecosystem of the later stages is likely to be a net sink of carbon at least for the summer season. Based on the eco-physiological characteristics of the major ecosystem components, we suggest several possible scenarios of future changes in the ecosystem carbon cycle.


Climate changeEcosystem carbon cycleGlacier forelandHigh ArcticSuccessionSvalbard

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© The Botanical Society of Japan and Springer-Verlag 2005