Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 409684
Title Shrubs in the cold : interactions between vegetation, permafrost and climate in Siberian tundra
Author(s) Blok, D.
Source University. Promotor(en): Frank Berendse, co-promotor(en): Monique Heijmans; Gabriela Schaepman. - [S.l.] : S.n. - ISBN 9789461730251 - 152
Department(s) Nature Conservation and Plant Ecology
WIMEK
Publication type Dissertation, internally prepared
Publication year 2011
Keyword(s) struiken - vegetatie - permafrost - kou - klimaat - interacties - toendra - arctische ecologie - plantenecologie - siberië - shrubs - vegetation - cold - climate - interactions - tundra - arctic ecology - plant ecology - siberia
Categories Plant Ecology
Abstract

The Arctic is experiencing strong increases in air temperature during the last decades. High-latitude tundra regions are very responsive to changes in temperature and may cause a shift in tundra vegetation composition towards greater dominance of deciduous shrubs. With increasing deciduous shrub cover, the surface albedo (proportion of sunlight that is reflected to the atmosphere) may be reduced and lead to air warming by trapping more solar radiation into the Arctic ecosystem. As a result of this warming, thawing of carbon-rich permafrost soils may increase and cause a large greenhouse gas flux to the atmosphere, thus contributing to global warming.

In my thesis I studied how climate influences shrub growth in the Siberian tundra and how climate-induced changes in shrub cover affect summer permafrost thaw and surface albedo. I investigated these interactions between climate, permafrost and Arctic shrub growth using a combination of shrub ring width analysis, field experiments and remote sensing techniques. I measured and compared growth ring widths with meteorological station data and observed that shrub growth is stimulated by higher summer air temperatures. By performing a shrub removal experiment, I demonstrated that a temperature-induced increase in shrub cover may reduce summer permafrost thaw. Shading by the shrub canopy reduced the transfer of energy to the soil. A denser shrub cover thus effectively reduces summer permafrost thaw, despite leading at the same time to a lower surface albedo. These results indicate it is important to incorporate feedbacks between shrub growth, climate and permafrost thaw in model predictions on the Arctic climate and stability of permafrost in a future warmer world.

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