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Summer drought weakens land surface cooling of tundra vegetation


Rietze, Nils; Assmann, Jakob J; Plekhanova, Elena; Naegeli, Kathrin; Damm, Alexander; Maximov, Trofim C; Karsanaev, Sergey V; Hensgens, Geert; Schaepman-Strub, Gabriela (2024). Summer drought weakens land surface cooling of tundra vegetation. Environmental Research Letters, 19(4):044043.

Abstract

Siberia experienced a prolonged heatwave in the spring of 2020, resulting in extreme summer drought and major wildfires in the North-Eastern Siberian lowland tundra. In the Arctic tundra, plants play a key role in regulating the summer land surface energy budget by contributing to land surface cooling through evapotranspiration. Yet we know little about how drought conditions impact land surface cooling by tundra plant communities, potentially contributing to high air temperatures through a positive plant-mediated feedback. Here we used high-resolution land surface temperature and vegetation maps based on drone imagery to determine the impact of an extreme summer drought on land surface cooling in the lowland tundra of North-Eastern Siberia. We found that land surface cooling differed strongly among plant communities between the drought year 2020 and the reference year 2021. Further, we observed a decrease in the normalized land surface cooling (measured as water deficit index) in the drought year 2020 across all plant communities. This indicates a shift towards an energy budget dominated by sensible heat fluxes, contributing to land surface warming. Overall, our findings suggest significant variation in land surface cooling among common Arctic plant communities in the North-Eastern Siberian lowland tundra and a pronounced effect of drought on all community types. Based on our results, we suggest discriminating between functional tundra plant communities when predicting the drought impacts on energy flux related processes such as land surface cooling, permafrost thaw and wildfires.

Abstract

Siberia experienced a prolonged heatwave in the spring of 2020, resulting in extreme summer drought and major wildfires in the North-Eastern Siberian lowland tundra. In the Arctic tundra, plants play a key role in regulating the summer land surface energy budget by contributing to land surface cooling through evapotranspiration. Yet we know little about how drought conditions impact land surface cooling by tundra plant communities, potentially contributing to high air temperatures through a positive plant-mediated feedback. Here we used high-resolution land surface temperature and vegetation maps based on drone imagery to determine the impact of an extreme summer drought on land surface cooling in the lowland tundra of North-Eastern Siberia. We found that land surface cooling differed strongly among plant communities between the drought year 2020 and the reference year 2021. Further, we observed a decrease in the normalized land surface cooling (measured as water deficit index) in the drought year 2020 across all plant communities. This indicates a shift towards an energy budget dominated by sensible heat fluxes, contributing to land surface warming. Overall, our findings suggest significant variation in land surface cooling among common Arctic plant communities in the North-Eastern Siberian lowland tundra and a pronounced effect of drought on all community types. Based on our results, we suggest discriminating between functional tundra plant communities when predicting the drought impacts on energy flux related processes such as land surface cooling, permafrost thaw and wildfires.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
910 Geography & travel
590 Animals (Zoology)
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
Physical Sciences > General Environmental Science
Health Sciences > Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health, General Environmental Science, Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
Language:English
Date:22 March 2024
Deposited On:25 Apr 2024 08:40
Last Modified:31 May 2024 01:58
Publisher:IOP Publishing
ISSN:1748-9326
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ad345e
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID178753
  • : Project TitleArctic Tundra Surface Energy Budget - assessing the status and informing predictions
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)