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Long-term warming effects on carbon and nitrogen dynamics in tundra soils

Authors Robert G. Björk
Mats P. Björkman
Alf Ekblad
Sarah C. Elmendorf
Gregory H.R. Henry
Leif Klemedtsson
Sofie Sjögersten
Ulf Molau
Published in 20th Anniversary ITEX Workshop, El Paso, USA, 17–21 January 2012
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Language en
Keywords 13C NMR, Arctic, Carbon, Nitrogen, Soil, Stabil isotopes, Tundra
Subject categories Terrestrial ecology


During IPY 2008 we used the ITEX experiment in Latnjajaure (northern Sweden), established during the early years of the program, to investigate long-term warming effects on ecosystem respiration (ER), carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) pool (including d13C and d15N), soil organic C (SOC) chemical composition, and N mineralization among plant communities. After 12 to 15 years of open top chamber (OTC) treatment no statistical effect was found on the soil temperature (10 cm soil depth), although the was an overall increase in all OTC by +0.2°C. However, the soil moisture decreased significantly by 3-14%, depending on plant community, in the OTCs compared to ambient conditions. Preliminary, there was a 19-61% non-significant increase in annual growing season ER in the OTC compared to the ambient plots over the growing season. The were distinct differences in the SOM functional composition among plant communities with c 10% more O-alkyls stored in tussock tundra than in dry meadow. The OTCs did not consistently alter the SOM composition among the vegetation types but clearly showed a trend for reduced aliphatic and O-alkyl C in the OTCs suggesting increased decomposition (or reduced inputs) of these compounds. Thus, the non-significantly higher ER may in some communities be of plant origin linked to greater plant biomass in the OTCs, and in other (e.g. tussock tundra) from increased decomposition rates. In conclusion, this study showed that 12-15 years of OTC treatment had a modest effects impact C and N dynamics in tundra soils specific to distinct plant communities.

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