Climatic Change

, Volume 44, Issue 1–2, pp 139–150 | Cite as

Annual CO2 Flux in Dry and Moist Arctic Tundra: Field Responses to Increases in Summer Temperatures and Winter Snow Depth

  • J. M. Welker
  • J. T. Fahnestock
  • M. H. Jones


We examined the annual exchange of CO2 between the atmosphere and moist tussock and dry heath tundra ecosystems (which together account for over one-third of the low arctic land area) under ambient field conditions and under increased winter snow deposition, increased summer temperatures, or both. Our results indicate that these two arctic tundra ecosystems were net annual sources of CO2 to the atmosphere from September 1994 to September 1996 under ambient weather conditions and under our three climate change scenarios. Carbon was lost from these ecosystems in both winter and summer, although the majority of CO2 evolution took place during the short summer. Our results indicate that (1) warmer summer temperatures will increase annual CO2 efflux from both moist and dry tundra ecosystems by 45–55% compared to current ambient temperatures; (2) deeper winter snow cover will increase winter CO2 efflux in both moist and dry tundra ecosystems, but will decrease net summer CO2 efflux; and (3) deeper winter snow cover coupled with warmer summer temperatures will nearly double the annual amount of CO2 emitted from moist tundra and will result in a 24% increase in the annual CO2 efflux of dry tundra. If, as predicted, climate change alters both winter snow deposition and summer temperatures, then shifts in CO2 exchange between the biosphere and atmosphere will likely not be uniform across the Arctic tundra landscape. Increased snow deposition in dry tundra is likely to have a larger effect on annual CO2 flux than warmer summer temperatures alone or warmer temperatures coupled with increased winter snow depth. The combined effects of increased summer temperatures and winter snow deposition on annual CO2 flux in moist tundra will be much larger than the effects of either climate change scenario alone.


Arctic Tundra Winter Snow Tundra Ecosystem Heath Tundra Increase Summer Temperature 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. M. Welker
    • 1
  • J. T. Fahnestock
    • 1
  • M. H. Jones
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Renewable ResourcesUniversity of WyomingLaramieU.S.A.
  2. 2.Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal BiologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusU.S.A.

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