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Rates and radiocarbon content of summer ecosystem respiration in response to long‐term deeper snow in the High Arctic of NW Greenland


The amount and timing of snow cover control the cycling of carbon (C), water, and energy in arctic ecosystems. The implications of changing snow cover for regional C budgets, biogeochemistry, hydrology, and albedo due to climate change are rudimentary, especially for the High Arctic. In a polar semidesert of NW Greenland, we used a ~10-year old snow manipulation experiment to quantify how deeper snow affects magnitude, seasonality, and 14C content of summer C emissions. We monitored ecosystem respiration (Reco), soil CO2, and their 14C contents over three summers in vegetated and bare areas. Additional snowpack, elevated soil water content (SWC), and temperature throughout the growing season in vegetated, but not in bare, areas. Daily Reco was positively correlated to temperature, but negatively correlated to SWC; consequently, we found no effect of increased snow on daily flux. Cumulative summertime Reco was not related to annual snowfall, but to water year precipitation (winter snow plus summer rain). Experimentally increased snowpack shortened the growing season length and reduced summertime Reco up to 40%. Soil CO2 was older under increased snow. However, we found no effect of snow depth on the R eco age because older C emissions were masked by younger CO 2 produced from the litter layer or plant respiration. In the High Arctic, anticipated changes in precipitation regime associated with warming are a key uncertainty for understanding future C cycling. In polar semideserts, water year precipitation is an important driver of summertime Reco. Permafrost C is vulnerable to changes in snowpack, with a deeper snowpack-promoting decomposition of older soil C. ©2014. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

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