Current Topics in Plant Research

Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 118, Issue 3, pp 173-179

First online:

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

  • Takayuki NakatsuboAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Dynamics and Management, Graduate School of Biosphere Science, Hiroshima University Email author 
  • , Yukiko Sakata BekkuAffiliated withDepartment of Primary Education, Tsuru University
  • , Masaki UchidaAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, National Institute of Polar Research
  • , Hiroyuki MuraokaAffiliated withInstitute for Basin Ecosystem Studies, Gifu University
  • , Atsushi KumeAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Biology and Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Toyama University
  • , Toshiyuki OhtsukaAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, Ibaraki University
  • , Takehiro MasuzawaAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Faculty of Science, Shizuoka University
  • , Hiroshi KandaAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, National Institute of Polar Research
  • , Hiroshi KoizumiAffiliated withInstitute for Basin Ecosystem Studies, Gifu University

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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 change Ecosystem carbon cycle Glacier foreland High Arctic Succession Svalbard