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Publication Date
24 April 2017

Weakening Temperature Control on the Interannual Variations of Spring Carbon Uptake across Northern Lands



Ongoing spring warming allows the growing season to begin earlier, enhancing carbon uptake in northern ecosystems. Here we use 34 years of atmospheric CO2 concentration measurements at Barrow, Alaska (BRW, 71° N) to show that the interannual relationship between spring temperature and carbon uptake has recently shifted. Two indicators, the spring zero-crossing date of atmospheric CO2 (SZC) and the magnitude of CO2 drawdown between May and June (SCC), were defined. The previously reported strong correlation between SZC, SCC and ST was found in the first 17 years of measurements, but disappeared in the last 17 years. As a result, the sensitivity of both SZC and SCC to warming decreased. Simulations with an atmospheric transport model coupled to a terrestrial ecosystem model suggest that the weakened interannual correlation of SZC and SCC with ST in the last 17 years is attributable to the declining temperature response of spring net primary productivity (NPP) rather than to changes in heterotrophic respiration (HR) or in atmospheric transport patterns. Reduced chilling during dormancy and emerging light limitation are possible mechanisms that may have contributed to the loss of NPP response to ST. Our results thus challenge the ‘warmer spring–bigger sink’ mechanism.
“Weakening Temperature Control On The Interannual Variations Of Spring Carbon Uptake Across Northern Lands”. 2017. doi:10.1038/NCLIMATE3277.
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