Alaska Coastal Carbon Interactions

Project Description

Carbon Interconnections: Developing an understanding and predictive capability of the interconnections among Arctic terrestrial, atmospheric, and marine systems.

Project Summary: 

This project is part of a larger NSF initiative called the Study of the Northern Alaska Coastal System (SNACS). Most regional observation networks indicate that dramatic changes have occurred across the Arctic in recent decades, but comparatively little work has been done to assess atmospheric and oceanic responses to the dramatic observed terrestrial changes. Both increases in surface air temperature and a shift in arctic air circulation patterns are likely to contribute to changes in ice distribution. Rising sea level, changes in coastal geography due to shoreline erosion, increased winds, storm surges, and flooding may be the direct results of the depletion of sea ice and the resulting increase in fetch. As the tightly linked land, ocean, and atmosphere systems of the Arctic respond to the effects of climate change, the challenges of modeling the arctic region need to addressed using high spatial resolution data, which current global climate models do not use due to computer resource limitations.

Alaska North Slope and location of tundra network of tower eddy covariance measurement sites for determining land-atmosphere CO2 exchange. These sites provide the tie-points for aircraft CO2 flux and satellite based mapping of terrestrial carbon exchange with the atmosphere. These synergistic data collection activities are being used to better understand environmental controls on terrestrial carbon sequestration and storage processes, as well as land-ocean-atmosphere exchanges of carbon.

This project emphasizes linking the major arctic and human systems to understand current and likely future interactions through three scientific goals: 1) to estimate the historic and future impacts of variability within the ocean and atmospheric systems on terrestrial fluxes of gaseous (including CO2 and water vapor) and non-gaseous (particulate and dissolved organic matter, nutrients, and water) materials and energy between the land and the atmosphere and sea; 2) to evaluate the impacts of variation in radiation, climate, ocean circulation, ocean temperature, and sea ice position and extent on terrestrial processes, including those that have feedback on atmospheric and ocean processes; and 3) to provide high-resolution products (atmospheric, ice, ocean, and terrestrial) and related datasets, relevant to the patterns and controls of terrestrial and oceanic processes, for use in future analyses. More information is available at the SNACS project website.



Euskirchen, E.S., A.D. McGuire, D.W. Kicklighter, Q. Zhuang, J.S. Clein, R.J. Dargaville, D.G. Dye, J.S. Kimball, K.C. McDonald, J.M. Melillo, V.E. Romanovsky, and N.V. Smith, 2006. Importance of recent shifts in soil thermal dynamics on growing season length, productivity, and carbon sequestration in terrestrial high-latitude ecosystems. Global Change Biology 12, 731-750.

Kimball, J.S., K.C. McDonald, and M. Zhao, 2006. Spring thaw and its effect on terrestrial vegetation productivity in the western Arctic observed from satellite microwave and optical remote sensing. Earth Interactions 10(21), 1-22.

Kimball, J.S., M. Zhao, A.D. McGuire, F.A. Heinsch, J. Clein, M. Calef, W.M. Jolly, S. Kang, S.E. Euskirchen, K.C. McDonald, and S.W. Running, 2006. Recent climate driven increases in vegetation productivity for the Western Arctic: Evidence of an acceleration of the northern terrestrial carbon cycle. Earth Interactions 11, 4, 1-23.

Zhang, K., J.S. Kimball, E.H. Hogg, M. Zhao, W.C. Oechel, J. Cassano, and S.W. Running, 2007. Satellite remote sensing detection of a recent decline in northern high latitude terrestrial vegetation productivity with regional warming and drying. Global Change Biology (In-review).