Multi-Decadal Changes in Tundra Environments and Ecosystems: Synthesis of the International Polar Year-Back to the Future Project (IPY-BTF)
- 681 Downloads
Understanding the responses of tundra systems to global change has global implications. Most tundra regions lack sustained environmental monitoring and one of the only ways to document multi-decadal change is to resample historic research sites. The International Polar Year (IPY) provided a unique opportunity for such research through the Back to the Future (BTF) project (IPY project #512). This article synthesizes the results from 13 papers within this Ambio Special Issue. Abiotic changes include glacial recession in the Altai Mountains, Russia; increased snow depth and hardness, permafrost warming, and increased growing season length in sub-arctic Sweden; drying of ponds in Greenland; increased nutrient availability in Alaskan tundra ponds, and warming at most locations studied. Biotic changes ranged from relatively minor plant community change at two sites in Greenland to moderate change in the Yukon, and to dramatic increases in shrub and tree density on Herschel Island, and in sub-arctic Sweden. The population of geese tripled at one site in northeast Greenland where biomass in non-grazed plots doubled. A model parameterized using results from a BTF study forecasts substantial declines in all snowbeds and increases in shrub tundra on Niwot Ridge, Colorado over the next century. In general, results support and provide improved capacities for validating experimental manipulation, remote sensing, and modeling studies.
KeywordsIPY Glaciers Permafrost Snow stratigraphy Tundra vegetation Limnology Shrubs Treeline
This study is part of the IPY project 512, “Back to the Future” (www.ipybtf.org). We thank all the contributors to this Special Issue and those that have published previously or are in the process of publishing—particularly the many graduate students who have contributed to and benefited from this project. The project would have been impossible without the formative studies of many researchers who established the IBP Tundra Biome project and other long-term studies exploited in the BTF study. The co-ordination of the project was financed by a grant from the Swedish Science Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet grant number 327-2007-833) to TVC and the US National Science Foundation (ANS-0732885, OPP-9906692) to CT. TVC also gratefully acknowledges support from the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (Formas grants numbered 214-2008-188 and 214-2009-389). The remaining co-authors acknowledge their national research councils for supporting their participation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the US-NSF.
- ACIA. 2005. Arctic climate impact assessment—scientific report, 1st ed. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Andrews, C., J. Dick, C. Jonasson, and T.V. Callaghan. 2011. Assessment of biological and environmental phenology at a landscape level from 30 years of fixed date repeat photography in Northern Sweden. Ambio. doi: 10.1007/s13280-011-0167-z.
- Arft, A.M., M.D. Walker, J. Gurevitch, J.M. Alatalo, M.S. Bret-Harte, M. Dale, M. Diemer, F. Gugerli, et al. 1999. Responses of tundra plants to experimental warming: Meta-analysis of the international tundra experiment. Ecological Monographs 69: 491–511.Google Scholar
- Callaghan, T.V., L.O. Björn., Y. Chernov, F.S. Chapin, T.R. Christensen, B. Huntley, R. Ims, S. Jonasson, et al. 2005. Tundra and Polar Desert ecosystems. In ACIA. Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, 24–352. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Callaghan, T.V., C.E. Tweedie, and P.J. Webber. 2011a. Multi-decadal changes in Tundra environments and ecosystems: The International Polar Year Back to the Future Project (IPY-BTF). Ambio. doi: 10.1007/s13280-011-0162-4.
- Callaghan, T.V., T.R. Cristensen, and E.J. Jantze. 2011b. Plant and vegetation dynamics on Disko Island, West Greenland: Snapshots separated by over 40 years. Ambio. doi: 10.1007/s13280-011-0169-x.
- Callaghan, T.V., and C.E. Tweedie (eds.) 2011. Multi-decadal changes in Tundra environments and ecosystems—The International Polar Year Back to the Future Project. Ambio Special Issue 40(6).Google Scholar
- Chapin, F.S., M. Berman, T.V. Callaghan, P. Convey, A.-S. Crépin, K. Danell, H. Ducklow, B. Forbes, et al. 2005a. Polar systems. In Ecosystems and human well-being, Vol. 1: Current state and trends, ed. R. Hassan, R. Scholes, and N. Ash, 717–746. Washington: Island Press.Google Scholar
- Danby, R.K., S. Koh, D.S. Hik, and L.W. Price. 2011. Four decades of plant community change in the Alpine Tundra of Southwest Yukon, Canada. Ambio. doi: 10.1007/s13280-011-0172-2.
- Daniёls, F.J.A., and J.G. de Molenaar. 2011. Flora and vegetation of Tasiilaq, Formerly Angmagssalik, Southeast Greenland—a comparison of data from between around 1900 and 2007. Ambio. doi: 10.1007/s13280-011-0171-3.
- Goswami, S., J.A. Gamon, and C.E. Tweedie. 2011. Surface hydrology of an arctic ecosystem: Multiscale analysis of a flooding and draining experiment using spectral reflectance. Journal of Geophysical Research 116: G00I07. doi: 10.1029/2010JG001346.
- Hedenås, H., H. Olsson, C. Jonasson, J. Bergstedt, U. Dahlberg, and T.V. Callaghan. 2011. Changes in tree growth, biomass and vegetation over a thirteen-year period in the Swedish Sub-Arctic. Ambio. doi: 10.1007/s13280-011-0173-1.
- IPCC. 2007. Climate change 2007: The physical science basis—contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment. Report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Johansson, C., V.A. Pohjola, C. Jonasson, and T.V. Callaghan. 2011. Multi-decadal changes in snow characteristics in sub-Arctic Sweden. Ambio. doi: 10.1007/s13280-011-0164-2.
- Johansson, M., J. Åkerman, F. Keuper, T.R. Christensen, H. Lantuit, and T.V. Callaghan. 2011. Past and present permafrost temperatures in the Abisko area: Redrilling of boreholes. Ambio. doi: 10.1007/s13280-011-0163-3.
- Johnson, D.R., D. Ebert-May, P.J. Webber, and C.E. Tweedie. 2011. Forecasting Alpine vegetation change using repeat sampling and a novel modeling approach. Ambio. doi: 10.1007/s13280-011-0175-z.
- Krupnik, I., et al. 2011. Understanding Earth’s polar challenges: International Polar Year 2007–2008. Summary Report by ICSU/WMO Joint Committee for International Polar Year 2007–2008, University of the Arctic, Roveniemi. Edmonton: CCI Press.Google Scholar
- Kumpula, T., A. Pajunen, E. Kaarleja, B.C. Forbes, and F. Stammler. 2011. Land use and land cover change in Arctic Russia: Ecological and social implications of industrial development. Global Environmental Change. doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2010.12.010.
- Lang, S.I., J.H.C. Cornelissen, A. Hölzer, C.J.F. ter Braak, M. Ahrens, T.V. Callaghan, and R. Aerts. 2009. Determinants of cryptogam composition and diversity in Sphagnum-dominated peatlands: The importance of temporal, spatial and functional scales. Journal of Ecology 97: 299–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Lougheed, V.L., M.G. Butler, D.C. McEwen, and J.E. Hobbie. 2011. Changes in tundra pond limnology: Re-sampling Alaskan ponds after 40 years. Ambio. doi: 10.1007/s13280-011-0165-1.
- Madsen, J., C. Jaspers, M. Tamstorf, C.E. Mortensen, and F. Rigét. 2011. Long-term effects of grazing and global warming on the composition and carrying capacity of graminoid marshes for moulting geese in East Greenland. Ambio. doi: 10.1007/s13280-011-0170-4.
- Melillo, J., T.V. Callaghan, F.I. Woodward, E. Salati, and S.K. Sinha. 1990. The effects on ecosystems. In Climate change, the IPCC Scientific Assessment, ed. J. Houghton, G.J. Jenkins, and J.J. Ephraums, 282–310. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Myers-Smith, I.H., D.S. Hik, C. Kennedy, D. Cooley, J.F. Johnstone, A.J. Kenney, and C.J. Krebs. 2011. Expansion of canopy-forming willows over the 20th century on Herschel Island, Yukon Territory, Canada. Ambio. doi: 10.1007/s13280-011-0168-y.
- NRC. 2006. Toward an integrated arctic observing network. Washington, DC: The National Academy Press.Google Scholar
- Rundqvist,S., H. Hedenås, A. Sandström, U. Emanuelsson, H. Eriksson, C. Jonasson, and T.V. Callaghan. 2011. Tree and shrub expansion over the past 34 years at the tree-line near Abisko, Sweden. Ambio. doi: 10.1007/s13280-011-0174-0.
- Sandberg, G. 1963. Växtvärlden i Abisko nationalpark. In Natur i Lappland, II ed, ed. K. Curry-Lindahl, 885–909. Uppsala: Bokförlaget Svensk Natur. (in Swedish).Google Scholar
- Shaver, G.R., T.V. Callaghan, C.E. Tweedie, and P.J. Webber. 2004. Flagship observatories for Arctic environmental research and monitoring. Woods Hole: Ecosystems Centre.Google Scholar
- SWIPA. 2011. Snow, water, ice, permafrost in the Arctic. http://www.amap.no/swipa/.
- Van Bogaert, R., K. Haneca, J. Hoogesteger, C. Jonasson, M. De Dapper, and T.V. Callaghan. 2011. A century of tree line changes in sub-Arctic Sweden show local and regional variability and only a minor role of 20th century climate warming. Journal of Biogeography. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2010.02453.x.
- van Wijk, M.T., K.E. Clemmensen, G.R. Shaver, M. Williams, T.V. Callaghan, F.S. Chapin, J.H.C. Cornelissen, L. Gough, et al. 2004. Long-term ecosystem level experiments at Toolik Lake, Alaska, and at Abisko, Northern Sweden: Generalizations and differences in ecosystem and plant type responses to global change. Global Change Biology 10: 105–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Walker, M.D., C.H. Wahren, R.D. Hollister, G.H.R. Henry, L.E. Ahlquist, J.M. Alatalo, M.S. Bret-Harte, M.P. Calef, et al. 2006. Plant community responses to experimental warming across the tundra biome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103: 1342 -1346.Google Scholar
- Walker, D.A., U.S. Bhatt, T.V. Callaghan, J.C. Comiso, H.E. Epstein, B.C. Forbes, M. Gill, W.A. Gould, et al. 2010. Vegetation. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 91: S115–S116.Google Scholar