Project description:Arctic tundra ecosystems have experienced unprecedented change associated with climate warming over recent decades. Across the Pan-Arctic, vegetation productivity and surface greenness have trended positively over the period of satellite observation. However, since 2011 these trends have slowed considerably, showing signs of browning in many regions. It is unclear what factors are driving this change and which regions/landforms will be most sensitive to future browning. Here we provide evidence linking decadal patterns in arctic greening and browning with regional climate change and local permafrost-driven landscape heterogeneity. We analyzed the spatial variability of decadal-scale trends in surface greenness across the Arctic Coastal Plain of northern Alaska (~60,000?km²) using the Landsat archive (1999-2014), in combination with novel 30?m classifications of polygonal tundra and regional watersheds, finding landscape heterogeneity and regional climate change to be the most important factors controlling historical greenness trends. Browning was linked to increased temperature and precipitation, with the exception of young landforms (developed following lake drainage), which will likely continue to green. Spatiotemporal model forecasting suggests carbon uptake potential to be reduced in response to warmer and/or wetter climatic conditions, potentially increasing the net loss of carbon to the atmosphere, at a greater degree than previously expected.
Project description:Arctic river deltas are highly dynamic environments in the northern circumpolar permafrost region that are affected by fluvial, coastal, and permafrost-thaw processes. They are characterized by thick sediment deposits containing large but poorly constrained amounts of frozen organic carbon and nitrogen. This study presents new data on soil organic carbon and nitrogen storage as well as accumulation rates from the Ikpikpuk and Fish Creek river deltas, two small, permafrost-dominated Arctic river deltas on the Arctic Coastal Plain of northern Alaska. A soil organic carbon storage of 42.4?±?1.6 and 37.9?±?3.5 kg C m-?2 and soil nitrogen storage of 2.1?±?0.1 and 2.0?±?0.2 kg N m-?2 was found for the first 2 m of soil for the Ikpikpuk and Fish Creek river delta, respectively. While the upper meter of soil contains 3.57 Tg C, substantial amounts of carbon (3.09 Tg C or 46%) are also stored within the second meter of soil (100-200 cm) in the two deltas. An increasing and inhomogeneous distribution of C with depth is indicative of the dominance of deltaic depositional rather than soil forming processes for soil organic carbon storage. Largely, mid- to late Holocene radiocarbon dates in our cores suggest different carbon accumulation rates for the two deltas for the last 2000 years. Rates up to 28 g C m-?2 year-?1 for the Ikpikpuk river delta are about twice as high as for the Fish Creek river delta. With this study, we highlight the importance of including these highly dynamic permafrost environments in future permafrost carbon estimations.
Project description:Arctic tundra landscapes are composed of a complex mosaic of patterned ground features, varying in soil moisture, vegetation composition, and surface hydrology over small spatial scales (10-100?m). The importance of microtopography and associated geomorphic landforms in influencing ecosystem structure and function is well founded, however, spatial data products describing local to regional scale distribution of patterned ground or polygonal tundra geomorphology are largely unavailable. Thus, our understanding of local impacts on regional scale processes (e.g., carbon dynamics) may be limited. We produced two key spatiotemporal datasets spanning the Arctic Coastal Plain of northern Alaska (~60,000?km2) to evaluate climate-geomorphological controls on arctic tundra productivity change, using (1) a novel 30?m classification of polygonal tundra geomorphology and (2) decadal-trends in surface greenness using the Landsat archive (1999-2014). These datasets can be easily integrated and adapted in an array of local to regional applications such as (1) upscaling plot-level measurements (e.g., carbon/energy fluxes), (2) mapping of soils, vegetation, or permafrost, and/or (3) initializing ecosystem biogeochemistry, hydrology, and/or habitat modeling.
Project description:As sources of reactive halogens, snowpacks in sea ice regions control the oxidative capacity of the Arctic atmosphere. However, measurements of snowpack halide concentrations remain sparse, particularly in the high Arctic, limiting our understanding of and ability to parameterize snowpack participation in tropospheric halogen chemistry. To address this gap, we measured concentrations of chloride, bromide, and sodium in snow samples collected during polar spring above remote multi-year sea ice (MYI) and first-year sea ice (FYI) north of Greenland and Alaska, as well as in the central Arctic, and compared these measurements to a larger dataset collected in the Alaskan coastal Arctic by Krnavek et al. (2012). Regardless of sea ice region, these surface snow samples generally featured lower salinities, compared to coastal snow. Surface snow in FYI regions was typically enriched in bromide and chloride compared to seawater, indicating snowpack deposition of bromine and chlorine-containing trace gases and an ability of the snowpack to participate further in bromine and chlorine activation processes. In contrast, surface snow in MYI regions was more often depleted in bromide, indicating it served as a source of bromine-containing trace gases to the atmosphere prior to sampling. Measurements at various snow depths indicate that the deposition of sea salt aerosols and halogen-containing trace gases to the snowpack surface played a larger role in determining surface snow halide concentrations compared to upward brine migration from sea ice. Calculated enrichment factors for bromide and chloride, relative to sodium, in the MYI snow samples suggests that MYI regions, in addition to FYI regions, have the potential to play an active role in Arctic boundary layer bromine and chlorine chemistry. The ability of MYI regions to participate in springtime atmospheric halogen chemistry should be considered in regional modeling of halogen activation and interpretation of satellite-based tropospheric bromine monoxide column measurements.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Pleistocene climatic instability had profound and diverse effects on the distribution and abundance of Arctic organisms revealed by variation in phylogeographic patterns documented in extant Arctic populations. To better understand the effects of geography and paleoclimate on Beringian freshwater fishes, we examined genetic variability in the genus Dallia (blackfish: Esociformes: Esocidae). The genus Dallia groups between one and three nominal species of small, cold- and hypoxia-tolerant freshwater fishes restricted entirely in distribution to Beringia from the Yukon River basin near Fairbanks, Alaska westward including the Kuskokwim River basin and low-lying areas of Western Alaska to the Amguema River on the north side of the Chukotka Peninsula and Mechigmen Bay on the south side of the Chukotka Peninsula. The genus has a non-continuous distribution divided by the Bering Strait and the Brooks Range. We examined the distribution of genetic variation across this range to determine the number and location of potential sub-refugia within the greater Beringian refugium as well as the roles of the Bering land bridge, Brooks Range, and large rivers within Beringia in shaping the current distribution of populations of Dallia. Our analyses were based on DNA sequence data from two nuclear gene introns (S7 and RAG1) and two mitochondrial genome fragments from nineteen sampling locations. These data were examined under genetic clustering and coalescent frameworks to identify sub-refugia within the greater Beringia refugium and to infer the demographic history of different populations of Dallia. RESULTS:We identified up to five distinct genetic clusters of Dallia. Four of these genetic clusters are present in Alaska: (1) Arctic Coastal Plain genetic cluster found north of the Brooks Range, (2) interior Alaska genetic cluster placed in upstream locations in the Kuskokwim and Yukon river basins, (3) a genetic cluster found on the Seward Peninsula, and (4) a coastal Alaska genetic cluster encompassing downstream Kuskokwim River and Yukon River basin sample locations and samples from Southwest Alaska not in either of these drainages. The Chukotka samples are assigned to their own genetic cluster (5) similar to the coastal Alaska genetic cluster. The clustering and ordination analyses implemented in Discriminant Analysis of Principal Components (DAPC) and STRUCTURE showed mostly concordant groupings and a high degree of differentiation among groups. The groups of sampling locations identified as genetic clusters correspond to geographic areas divided by likely biogeographic barriers including the Brooks Range and the Bering Strait. Estimates of sequence diversity (θ) are highest in the Yukon River and Kuskokwim River drainages near the Bering Sea. We also infer asymmetric migration rates between genetic clusters. The isolation of Dallia on the Arctic Coastal Plain of Alaska is associated with very low estimated migration rates between the coastal Alaska genetic cluster and the Arctic Coastal Plain genetic cluster. CONCLUSIONS:Our results support a scenario with multiple aquatic sub-refugia in Beringia during the Pleistocene and the preservation of that structure in extant populations of Dallia. An inferred historical presence of Dallia across the Bering land bridge explains the similarities in the genetic composition of Dallia in West Beringia and western coastal Alaska. In contrast, historic and contemporary isolation across the Brooks Range shaped the distinctiveness of present day Arctic Coastal Plain Dallia. Overall this study uncovered a high degree of genetic structuring among populations of Dallia supporting the idea of multiple Beringian sub-refugia during the Pleistocene and which appears to be maintained to the present due to the strictly freshwater nature and low dispersal ability of this genus.
Project description:Glacial meltwater systems supply the Arctic coastal ocean with large volumes of sediment and potentially bioavailable forms of iron, nitrogen and carbon. The particulate fraction of this supply is significant but estuarine losses have been thought to limit the iron supply from land. Here, our results reveal how flocculation (particle aggregation) involving labile iron may increase horizontal transport rather than enhance deposition close to the source. This is shown by combining field observations in Disko Fjord, West Greenland, and laboratory experiments. Our data show how labile iron affects floc sizes, shapes and densities and consequently yields low settling velocities and extended sediment plumes. We highlight the importance of understanding the flocculation mechanisms when examining fluxes of meltwater transported iron in polar regions today and in the future, and we underline the influence of terrestrial hotspots on the nutrient and solute cycles in Arctic coastal waters.
Project description:Identifying post-breeding migration and wintering distributions of migratory birds is important for understanding factors that may drive population dynamics. Red-throated Loons (Gavia stellata) are widely distributed across Alaska and currently have varying population trends, including some populations with recent periods of decline. To investigate population differentiation and the location of migration pathways and wintering areas, which may inform population trend patterns, we used satellite transmitters (n = 32) to describe migration patterns of four geographically separate breeding populations of Red-throated Loons in Alaska. On average (± SD) Red-throated Loons underwent long (6,288 ± 1,825 km) fall and spring migrations predominantly along coastlines. The most northern population (Arctic Coastal Plain) migrated westward to East Asia and traveled approximately 2,000 km farther to wintering sites than the three more southerly populations (Seward Peninsula, Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, and Copper River Delta) which migrated south along the Pacific coast of North America. These migration paths are consistent with the hypothesis that Red-throated Loons from the Arctic Coastal Plain are exposed to contaminants in East Asia. The three more southerly breeding populations demonstrated a chain migration pattern in which the more northerly breeding populations generally wintered in more northerly latitudes. Collectively, the migration paths observed in this study demonstrate that some geographically distinct breeding populations overlap in wintering distribution while others use highly different wintering areas. Red-throated Loon population trends in Alaska may therefore be driven by a wide range of effects throughout the annual cycle.
Project description:We examined patterns in soil microbial community composition across a successional gradient of drained lake basins in the Arctic Coastal Plain. Analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences revealed that methanogens closely related to Candidatus 'Methanoflorens stordalenmirensis' were the dominant archaea, comprising >50% of the total archaea at most sites, with particularly high levels in the oldest basins and in the top 57?cm of soil (active and transition layers). Bacterial community composition was more diverse, with lineages from OP11, Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Proteobacteria found in high relative abundance across all sites. Notably, microbial composition appeared to converge in the active layer, but transition and permafrost layer communities across the sites were significantly different to one another. Microbial biomass using fatty acid-based analysis indicated that the youngest basins had increased abundances of gram-positive bacteria and saprotrophic fungi at higher soil organic carbon levels, while the oldest basins displayed an increase in only the gram-positive bacteria. While this study showed differences in microbial populations across the sites relevant to basin age, the dominance of Candidatus 'M. stordalenmirensis' across the chronosequence indicates the potential for changes in local carbon cycling, depending on how these methanogens and associated microbial communities respond to warming temperatures.
Project description:Northern high-latitude rivers are major conduits of carbon from land to coastal seas and the Arctic Ocean. Arctic warming is promoting terrestrial permafrost thaw and shifting hydrologic flowpaths, leading to fluvial mobilization of ancient carbon stores. Here we describe (14)C and (13)C characteristics of dissolved organic carbon from fluvial networks across the Kolyma River Basin (Siberia), and isotopic changes during bioincubation experiments. Microbial communities utilized ancient carbon (11,300 to >50,000 (14)C years) in permafrost thaw waters and millennial-aged carbon (up to 10,000 (14)C years) across headwater streams. Microbial demand was supported by progressively younger ((14)C-enriched) carbon downstream through the network, with predominantly modern carbon pools subsidizing microorganisms in large rivers and main-stem waters. Permafrost acts as a significant and preferentially degradable source of bioavailable carbon in Arctic freshwaters, which is likely to increase as permafrost thaw intensifies causing positive climate feedbacks in response to on-going climate change.
Project description:How Arctic climate change might translate into alterations of biogeochemical cycles of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) with respect to inorganic and organic N utilization is not well understood. This study combined 15N uptake rate measurements for ammonium, nitrate, and urea with 15N- and 13C-based DNA stable-isotope probing (SIP). The objective was to identify active bacterial and archeal plankton and their role in N and C uptake during the Arctic summer and winter seasons. We hypothesized that bacteria and archaea would successfully compete for nitrate and urea during the Arctic winter but not during the summer, when phytoplankton dominate the uptake of these nitrogen sources. Samples were collected at a coastal station near Barrow, AK, during August and January. During both seasons, ammonium uptake rates were greater than those for nitrate or urea, and nitrate uptake rates remained lower than those for ammonium or urea. SIP experiments indicated a strong seasonal shift of bacterial and archaeal N utilization from ammonium during the summer to urea during the winter but did not support a similar seasonal pattern of nitrate utilization. Analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences obtained from each SIP fraction implicated marine group I Crenarchaeota (MGIC) as well as Betaproteobacteria, Firmicutes, SAR11, and SAR324 in N uptake from urea during the winter. Similarly, 13C SIP data suggested dark carbon fixation for MGIC, as well as for several proteobacterial lineages and the Firmicutes. These data are consistent with urea-fueled nitrification by polar archaea and bacteria, which may be advantageous under dark conditions.