CARBO-North aims at quantifying the carbon budget in Northern Russia across temporal and spatial scales. Activities address rates of ecosystem change, effects on the carbon budget (radiative forcing), and global climate and policy implications (Kyoto). Recent research on the impacts of climate change in high latitude regions has mostly assessed the equilibrium response of ecosystems, for instance what is the potential location of the arctic treeline or the southern limit of permafrost under conditions of global warming. However, transient responses are of much greater importance from a policy perspective. How quickly will the arctic treeline migrate? How quickly will permafrost thaw? How quickly will enhanced soil organic matter decay result in increased greenhouse gas emissions and leaching? Different time lags in these processes will cause significant deviations from equilibrium response.
Proposed field study areas in Northeast European Russia are characterized by gradual lowland transitions in vegetation and permafrost conditions. Dedicated climate models will provide requested variables and time slices as input to ecosystem studies. Analyses will be conducted to assess the sensitivity of climate model output to a suite of land cover, ground and permafrost schemes. Proxy data will be used to evaluate rates of ecosystem change under past climatic changes. The present environment will be studied from the plot to landscape scales with a variety of approaches, including assessments of human-induced and natural disturbances. Detailed monitoring and mapping of vegetation, soil and permafrost will provide input for process- oriented studies (treeline patch dynamics; tundra/forest/river carbon fluxes; ground subsidence, etc) and GIS- based up scaling to regional levels. Results are used for integrated ecosystem modelling, calculation of net radiative effects and assessment of the sensitivity of climate model predictions to transient environmental changes
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Funding SchemeSTREP - Specific Targeted Research Project