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Change in Arctic CO^2 Flux Over Two Decades: Effects of Climate Change at Barrow, Alaska

Walter C. Oechel, George L. Vourlitis, Steven J. Hastings and Sergey A. Bochkarev
Ecological Applications
Vol. 5, No. 3 (Aug., 1995), pp. 846-855
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/1941992
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1941992
Page Count: 10
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Change in Arctic CO^2 Flux Over Two Decades: Effects of Climate Change at Barrow, Alaska
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Abstract

A significant difference in net ecosystem carbon balance of wet sedge ecosystems in the Barrow, Alaska region was observed between CO"2 flux measurements obtained during the International Biological Program in 1971 and measurements made during the 1991-1992 growing seasons. Currently, high-center polygons are net sources of CO"2 to the atmosphere of @?14 gC@?m^-^2@?yr^-^1, while low-center polygons are losing @?3.6 gC@?m^-^2@?yr^-^1, and ice wedge habitats are accumulating 4.0 gC@?m^-^2@?yr^-^1. On average, moist meadow habitats characteristic of the IBP-II site are currently sources of @?1.3 gC@?m^-^2@?yr^-^1 to the atmosphere compared to the reported accumulation of @?25 gC@?m^-^2@?yr^-^1 determined in 1971. This difference in ecosystem function over the last two decades may be due to the recently reported increase in surface temperatures resulting in decreases in the soil moisture status. These results point to the importance of long-term research sites and databases for determining the potential effects of climate change on ecosystem function.

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