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Temperate freshwater wetlands are among the most productive terrestrial ecosystems, stimulating interest in using restored wetlands as biological carbon sequestration projects for greenhouse gas reduction programs. In this study, we used the eddy covariance technique to measure surface energy carbon fluxes from a constructed, impounded freshwater wetland during two annual periods that were 8 years apart: 2002–2003 and 2010–2011. During 2010–2011, we measured methane (CH4) fluxes to quantify the annual atmospheric carbon mass balance and its concomitant influence on global warming potential (GWP). Peak growing season fluxes of latent heat and carbon dioxide (CO2) were greater in 2002–2003 compared to 2010–2011. In...
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In the southwestern U.S., the meteorological phenomenon known as atmospheric rivers (ARs) has gained increasing attention due to its strong connections to floods, snowpacks, and water supplies in the West Coast states. Relatively less is known about the ecological implications of ARs, particularly in the interior Southwest, where AR storms are less common. To address this gap, we compared a chronology of AR landfalls on the west coast between 1989 and 2011 and between 25°N and 42.5°N to annual metrics of the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI; an indicator of vegetation productivity) and daily resolution precipitation data to assess influences of AR-fed winter precipitation on vegetation productivity across...
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Forest soil respiration is a major carbon (C) flux that is characterized by significant variability in space and time. We quantified growing season soil respiration during both a drought year and a nondrought year across a complex landscape to identify how landscape and climate interact to control soil respiration. We asked the following questions: (1) How does soil respiration vary across the catchments due to terrain-induced variability in moisture availability and temperature? (2) Does the relative importance of moisture versus temperature limitation of respiration vary across space and time? And (3) what terrain elements are important for dictating the pattern of soil respiration and its controls? Moisture superseded...
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The objective of this research was to measure temporal variability in accretion and mass sedimentation rates (including organic carbon (OC), total nitrogen (TN), and total phosphorous (TP)) from the past century in a mangrove forest on the Shark River in Everglades National Park, USA. The 210Pb Constant Rate of Supply model was applied to six soil cores to calculate annual rates over the most recent 10, 50, and 100 year time spans. Our results show that rates integrated over longer timeframes are lower than those for shorter, recent periods of observation. Additionally, the substantial spatial variability between cores over the 10 year period is diminished over the 100 year record, raising two important implications....
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High-latitude ecosystems are experiencing the most rapid climate changes globally, and in many areas these changes are concurrent with shifts in patterns of herbivory. Individually, climate and herbivory are known to influence biosphere-atmosphere greenhouse gas (GHG) exchange; however, the interactive effects of climate and herbivory in driving GHG fluxes have been poorly quantified, especially in coastal systems that support large populations of migratory waterfowl. We investigated the magnitude and the climatic and physical controls of GHG exchange within the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in western Alaska across four distinct vegetation communities formed by herbivory and local microtopography. Net CO2 flux was greatest...
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Continued warming of the Arctic may cause permafrost to thaw and speed the decomposition of large stores of soil organic carbon (OC), thereby accentuating global warming. However, it is unclear if recent warming has raised the current rates of permafrost OC release to anomalous levels or to what extent soil carbon release is sensitive to climate forcing. Here we use a time series of radiocarbon age-offsets (14C) between the bulk lake sediment and plant macrofossils deposited in an arctic lake as an archive for soil and permafrost OC release over the last 14,500 years. The lake traps and archives OC imported from the watershed and allows us to test whether prior warming events stimulated old carbon release and heightened...
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In 2014, samples from 37 monitoring wells at 17 locations, within or near oil fields, and one site >5 km from oil fields, in the Los Angeles Basin, California, were analyzed for dissolved hydrocarbon gas isotopes and abundances. The wells sample a variety of depths of an aquifer system composed of unconsolidated and semiconsolidated sediments under various conditions of confinement. Concentrations of methane in groundwater samples ranged from 0.002 to 150 mg/L—some of the highest concentrations reported in a densely populated urban area. The δ13C and δ2H of the methane ranged from −80.8 to −45.5 per mil (‰) and −249.8 to −134.9‰, respectively, and, along with oxidation‐reduction processes, helped to identify the...
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Inverse empirical models can inform and improve more complex process-based models by quantifying the principal factors that control water quality variation. Here we developed a multiple regression model that explains 81% of the variation in filtered methylmercury (FMeHg) concentrations in Fishing Brook, a fourth-order stream in the Adirondack Mountains, New York, a known “hot spot” of Hg bioaccumulation. This model builds on previous observations that wetland-dominated riparian areas are the principal source of MeHg to this stream and were based on 43 samples collected during a 33 month period in 2007–2009. Explanatory variables include those that represent the effects of water temperature, streamflow, and modeled...
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Permafrost thaw in peat plateaus leads to the flooding of surface soils and the formation of collapse scar bogs, which have the potential to be large emitters of methane (CH4) from surface peat as well as deeper, previously frozen, permafrost carbon (C). We used a network of bubble traps, permanently installed 20 cm and 60 cm beneath the moss surface, to examine controls on ebullition from three collapse bogs in interior Alaska. Overall, ebullition was dominated by episodic events that were associated with changes in atmospheric pressure, and ebullition was mainly a surface process regulated by both seasonal ice dynamics and plant phenology. The majority (>90%) of ebullition occurred in surface peat layers, with...
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Thaw lakes are ubiquitous on arctic coastal plains (ACPs). While many thaw lakes have steep banks, stable water levels, and static surface areas, others only partially fill their basins and vary in area over the summer. These partially drained lakes (PDLs) are hydrologically connected to the wetlands immediately surrounding them. Heat and nutrient availability limit aquatic productivity on ACPs, and we hypothesized that shallow shorelines and greater hydrologic connectivity with the landscape should result in greater nutrient concentrations and biogeochemical cycling in PDLs. We tested this by monitoring water chemistry in lakes with varying levels of seasonal drainage in sandy and silty peaty lowland sites on the...
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Changes in vegetation and soil properties following permafrost degradation and thermokarst development in peatlands may cause changes in net carbon storage. To better understand these dynamics, we established three sites in Alaska that vary in permafrost regime, including a black spruce peat plateau forest with stable permafrost, an internal collapse scar bog formed as a result of thermokarst, and a rich fen without permafrost. Measurements include year-round eddy covariance estimates of carbon dioxide (CO2), water, and energy fluxes, associated environmental variables, and methane (CH4) fluxes at the collapse scar bog. The ecosystems all acted as net sinks of CO2 in 2011 and 2012, when air temperature and precipitation...
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Sources, abundance, isotopic compositions, and export fluxes of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), dissolved and colloidal organic carbon (DOC and COC), and particulate organic carbon (POC), and their response to hydrologic regimes were examined through monthly sampling from the Lower Mississippi River during 2006–2008. DIC was the most abundant carbon species, followed by POC and DOC. Concentration and δ13C of DIC decreased with increasing river discharge, while those of DOC remained fairly stable. COC comprised 61 ± 3% of the bulk DOC with similar δ13C abundances but higher percentages of hydrophobic organic acids than DOC, suggesting its aromatic and diagenetically younger status. POC showed peak concentrations...
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The distribution of permafrost is important to understand because of permafrost's influence on high-latitude ecosystem structure and functions. Moreover, near-surface (defined here as within 1 m of the Earth's surface) permafrost is particularly susceptible to a warming climate and is generally poorly mapped at regional scales. Subsequently, our objectives were to (1) develop the first-known binary and probabilistic maps of near-surface permafrost distributions at a 30 m resolution in the Alaskan Yukon River Basin by employing decision tree models, field measurements, and remotely sensed and mapped biophysical data; (2) evaluate the relative contribution of 39 biophysical variables used in the models; and (3) assess...
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The 2011 flood in the Lower Mississippi resulted in the second highest recorded river flow diverted into the Atchafalaya River Basin (ARB). The higher water levels during the flood peak resulted in high hydrologic connectivity between the Atchafalaya River and floodplain, with up to 50% of the Atchafalaya River water moving off channel. Water quality samples were collected throughout the ARB over the course of the flood event. Significant nitrate (NO3-) reduction (75%) occurred within the floodplain, resulting in a total NO3- reduction of 16.6% over the flood. The floodplain was a small but measurable source of dissolved reactive phosphorus (SRP) and ammonium (NH4+). Collectively, these results from this large flood...
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Organic layers of living and dead vegetation cover the ground surface in many permafrost landscapes and play important roles in ecosystem processes. These soil surface organic layers (SSOLs) store large amounts of carbon and buffer the underlying permafrost and its contained carbon from changes in aboveground climate. Understanding the dynamics of SSOLs is a prerequisite for predicting how permafrost and carbon stocks will respond to warming climate. Here we ask three questions about SSOLs in a representative area of the Arctic Foothills region of northern Alaska: (1) What environmental factors control the thickness of SSOLs and the carbon they store? (2) How long do SSOLs take to develop on newly stabilized point...
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Northern peatlands appear to hold large volumes of free-phase gas (e.g., CH4 and CO2), which has been detected by surface deformations, pore pressure profiles, and electromagnetic surveys. Determining the gas content and its impact in peat is challenging because gas storage depends on both the elastic properties of the peat matrix and the buoyant forces exerted by pore fluids. We therefore used a viscoelastic deformation model to estimate these variables by adjusting model runs to reproduce observed changes in peat surface elevation within a 1300 km2 peatland. A local GPS network documented significant changes in surface elevations throughout the year with the greatest vertical displacements associated with rapid...
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Characteristics of the natural fire regime are poorly resolved in the Arctic, even though fire may play an important role cycling carbon stored in tundra vegetation and soils to the atmosphere. In the course of studying vegetation and permafrost-terrain characteristics along a chronosequence of tundra burn sites from AD 1977, 1993, and 2007 on the North Slope of Alaska, we discovered two large, previously unrecognized tundra fires. The Meade River fire burned an estimated 500 km2 and the Ketik River fire burned an estimated 1200 km2. Based on radiocarbon dating of charred twigs, analysis of historic aerial photography, and regional climate proxy data, these fires likely occurred between AD 1880 and 1920. Together,...
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Coastal marshes take up atmospheric CO2 while emitting CO2, CH4, and N2O. This ability to sequester carbon (C) is much greater for wetlands on a per-area basis than from most ecosystems, facilitating scientific, political, and economic interest in their value as greenhouse gas sinks. However, the greenhouse gas balance of Gulf of Mexico wetlands is particularly understudied. We describe the net ecosystem exchange (NEEc) of CO2 and CH4 using eddy covariance (EC) in comparison with fluxes of CO2, CH4, and N2O using chambers from brackish and freshwater marshes in Louisiana, USA. From EC, we found that 182 g C m-2 y-1 was lost through NEEc from the brackish marsh. Of this, 11 g C m-2 y-1 resulted from net CH4 emissions...
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Dissolved organic matter (DOM) fuels the majority of in-stream microbial processes, including the removal of nitrate via denitrification. However, little is known about how the chemical composition of DOM influences denitrification rates. Water and sediment samples were collected across an ecosystem gradient, spanning the alpine to plains, in central Colorado to determine whether the chemical composition of DOM was related to denitrification rates. Laboratory bioassays measured denitrification potentials using the acetylene block technique and carbon mineralization via aerobic bioassays, while organic matter characteristics were evaluated using spectroscopic and fractionation methods. Denitrification potentials...
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Understanding the controls on floodplain carbon (C) cycling is important for assessing greenhouse gas emissions and the potential for C sequestration in river-floodplain ecosystems. We hypothesized that greater hydrologic connectivity would increase C inputs to floodplains that would not only stimulate soil C gas emissions but also sequester more C in soils. In an urban Piedmont river (151 km2 watershed) with a floodplain that is dry most of the year, we quantified soil CO2, CH4, and N2O net emissions along gradients of floodplain hydrologic connectivity, identified controls on soil aerobic and anaerobic respiration, and developed a floodplain soil C budget. Sites were chosen along a longitudinal river gradient...


map background search result map search result map Floodplain biogeochemical processing of floodwaters in the Atchafalaya River Basin during the Mississippi River flood of 2011 Identification of unrecognized tundra fire events on the north slope of Alaska Spatial variability and landscape controls of near-surface permafrost within the Alaskan Yukon River Basin Radiocarbon age-offsets in an arctic lake reveal the long-term response of permafrost carbon to climate change Floodplain biogeochemical processing of floodwaters in the Atchafalaya River Basin during the Mississippi River flood of 2011 Identification of unrecognized tundra fire events on the north slope of Alaska Spatial variability and landscape controls of near-surface permafrost within the Alaskan Yukon River Basin