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The cooling capacity of Mosses: Controls on water and energy fluxes in a Siberian Tundra site


Blok, D; Heijmans, M M P D; Schaepman-Strub, G; Ruijven, J; Parmentier, F J W; Maximov, T C; Berendse, F (2011). The cooling capacity of Mosses: Controls on water and energy fluxes in a Siberian Tundra site. Ecosystems, 14(7):1055-1065.

Abstract

Arctic tundra vegetation composition is expected to undergo rapid changes during the coming decades because of changes in climate. Higher air temper- atures generally favor growth of deciduous shrubs, often at the cost of moss growth. Mosses are con- sidered to be very important to critical tundra ecosystem processes involved in water and energy exchange, but very little empirical data are avail- able. Here, we studied the effect of experimental moss removal on both understory evapotranspira- tion and ground heat flux in plots with either a thin or a dense low shrub canopy in a tundra site with continuous permafrost in Northeast Siberia. Understory evapotranspiration increased with removal of the green moss layer, suggesting that most of the understory evapotranspiration originated from the organic soil layer underlying the green moss layer. Ground heat flux partitioning also increased with green moss removal indicating the strong insulating effect of moss. No significant effect of shrub canopy density on understory evapotranspiration was measured, but ground heat flux partitioning was reduced by a denser shrub canopy. In summary, our results show that mosses may exert strong controls on understory water and heat fluxes. Changes in moss or shrub cover may have important consequences for summer perma- frost thaw and concomitant soil carbon release in Arctic tundra ecosystems.

Abstract

Arctic tundra vegetation composition is expected to undergo rapid changes during the coming decades because of changes in climate. Higher air temper- atures generally favor growth of deciduous shrubs, often at the cost of moss growth. Mosses are con- sidered to be very important to critical tundra ecosystem processes involved in water and energy exchange, but very little empirical data are avail- able. Here, we studied the effect of experimental moss removal on both understory evapotranspira- tion and ground heat flux in plots with either a thin or a dense low shrub canopy in a tundra site with continuous permafrost in Northeast Siberia. Understory evapotranspiration increased with removal of the green moss layer, suggesting that most of the understory evapotranspiration originated from the organic soil layer underlying the green moss layer. Ground heat flux partitioning also increased with green moss removal indicating the strong insulating effect of moss. No significant effect of shrub canopy density on understory evapotranspiration was measured, but ground heat flux partitioning was reduced by a denser shrub canopy. In summary, our results show that mosses may exert strong controls on understory water and heat fluxes. Changes in moss or shrub cover may have important consequences for summer perma- frost thaw and concomitant soil carbon release in Arctic tundra ecosystems.

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28 citations in Web of Science®
27 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:moss, evaporation, ground heat flux, shrub permafrost tundra Arctic climate change
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:02 Mar 2012 09:59
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:31
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1432-9840
Additional Information:The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-011-9463-5

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