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 513054
Title Long-term monitoring reveals large impacts of an exceptional wet summer at a Siberian Arctic tundra site
Author(s) Heijmans, M.M.P.D.; Wang, Peng; Limpens, J.; Huissteden, J. van; Maximov, T.C.; Berendse, F.
Event Netherlands Annual Ecology Meeting (NAEM) 2016, Lunteren, 2016-02-09/2016-02-10
Department(s) Nature Conservation and Plant Ecology
Publication type Abstract in scientific journal or proceedings
Publication year 2016
Abstract In recent decades, shrub expansion has been observed in many places over the Arctic in response to climate warming. In 2007 we started research at a pristine Northeast-Siberian tundra site to investigate the relationship between shrub cover and summer thawing of permafrost by experimentally removing the shrub part of the vegetation. This Betula nana removal experiment is still running. The removal plots changed dramatically after three to five years, illustrating the importance of running field experiments longer than the 3-year timescale of a PhD project. The treatment effects became stronger over time as a result of feedbacks between vegetation, permafrost thaw, water and snow, which turned the originally elevated shrub patches into waterlogged depressions and ponds (Nauta et al. 2015). Nine years of measurements in the unchanged control plots showed that the thawing depth was not largest in the warmest summer, as one may expect, but in the wettest summer, implying an important role for precipitation in this ecosystem. We think the exceptional wet summer of 2011 was a trigger for local permafrost collapse outside the experiment, which is confirmed by some preliminary results. The increased thawing induced melting of ice in the permafrost leading to soil subsidence and ponding of water. The resulting thaw ponds show drowning of the shrubs and high methane emission. If a future warmer and wetter climate can more frequently trigger such local permafrost collapse, methane-emitting wetlands would expand in the Siberian lowland tundra landscape, which contrasts with the widely assumed shrub expansion.
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