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Title: Longer thaw seasons increase nitrogen availability for leaching during fall in tundra soils

Abstract

Climate change has resulted in warmer soil temperatures, earlier spring thaw and later fall freeze-up, resulting in warmer soil temperatures and thawing of permafrost in tundra regions. While these changes in temperature metrics tend to lengthen the growing season for plants, light levels, especially in the fall, will continue to limit plant growth and nutrient uptake. We conducted a laboratory experiment using intact soil cores with and without vegetation from a tundra peatland to measure the effects of late freeze and early spring thaw on carbon dioxide (CO2) exchange, methane (CH4) emissions, dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and nitrogen (N) leaching from soils. We compared soil C exchange and N production with a 30 day longer seasonal thaw during a simulated annual cycle from spring thaw through freeze-up and thaw. Across all cores, fall N leaching accounted for similar to 33% of total annual N loss despite significant increases in microbial biomass during this period. Nitrate(NO3-) leaching was highest during the fall (5.33 ± 1.45 mgNm-2 d-1) following plant senescence and lowest during the summer (0.43 ± 0.22 mg Nm-2 d-1). In the late freeze and early thaw treatment, we found 25% higher total annual ecosystem respiration but no significant changemore » in CH4 emissions or DOC loss due to high variability among samples. The late freeze period magnified N leaching and likely was derived from root turnover and microbial mineralization of soil organic matter coupled with little demand from plants or microbes. Furthermore, large N leaching during the fall will affect N cycling in low-lying areas and streams and may alter terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem nitrogen budgets in the arctic.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo; ORCiD logo; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Univ. of New Hampshire, Durham, NH (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
OSTI Identifier:
1257286
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1257288; OSTI ID: 1287266
Grant/Contract Number:  
administered by ORISE-ORAU under co; AC05-06OR23100
Resource Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Environmental Research Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Environmental Research Letters Journal Volume: 11 Journal Issue: 6; Journal ID: ISSN 1748-9326
Publisher:
IOP Publishing
Country of Publication:
United Kingdom
Language:
English
Subject:
58 GEOSCIENCES; nitrogen; carbon; permafrost thaw; tundra soils; changing seasonality; arctic tundra; microbial biomass; permafrost carbon; alpine ecosystem; growing-season; Alaskan tundra; forest soils; temperature; vegetation; dynamics

Citation Formats

Treat, Claire C., Wollheim, Wilfred M., Varner, Ruth K., and Bowden, William B. Longer thaw seasons increase nitrogen availability for leaching during fall in tundra soils. United Kingdom: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/11/6/064013.
Treat, Claire C., Wollheim, Wilfred M., Varner, Ruth K., & Bowden, William B. Longer thaw seasons increase nitrogen availability for leaching during fall in tundra soils. United Kingdom. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/11/6/064013.
Treat, Claire C., Wollheim, Wilfred M., Varner, Ruth K., and Bowden, William B. Wed . "Longer thaw seasons increase nitrogen availability for leaching during fall in tundra soils". United Kingdom. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/11/6/064013.
@article{osti_1257286,
title = {Longer thaw seasons increase nitrogen availability for leaching during fall in tundra soils},
author = {Treat, Claire C. and Wollheim, Wilfred M. and Varner, Ruth K. and Bowden, William B.},
abstractNote = {Climate change has resulted in warmer soil temperatures, earlier spring thaw and later fall freeze-up, resulting in warmer soil temperatures and thawing of permafrost in tundra regions. While these changes in temperature metrics tend to lengthen the growing season for plants, light levels, especially in the fall, will continue to limit plant growth and nutrient uptake. We conducted a laboratory experiment using intact soil cores with and without vegetation from a tundra peatland to measure the effects of late freeze and early spring thaw on carbon dioxide (CO2) exchange, methane (CH4) emissions, dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and nitrogen (N) leaching from soils. We compared soil C exchange and N production with a 30 day longer seasonal thaw during a simulated annual cycle from spring thaw through freeze-up and thaw. Across all cores, fall N leaching accounted for similar to 33% of total annual N loss despite significant increases in microbial biomass during this period. Nitrate(NO3-) leaching was highest during the fall (5.33 ± 1.45 mgNm-2 d-1) following plant senescence and lowest during the summer (0.43 ± 0.22 mg Nm-2 d-1). In the late freeze and early thaw treatment, we found 25% higher total annual ecosystem respiration but no significant change in CH4 emissions or DOC loss due to high variability among samples. The late freeze period magnified N leaching and likely was derived from root turnover and microbial mineralization of soil organic matter coupled with little demand from plants or microbes. Furthermore, large N leaching during the fall will affect N cycling in low-lying areas and streams and may alter terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem nitrogen budgets in the arctic.},
doi = {10.1088/1748-9326/11/6/064013},
journal = {Environmental Research Letters},
number = 6,
volume = 11,
place = {United Kingdom},
year = {2016},
month = {6}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record
DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/11/6/064013

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 4 works
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    Works referencing / citing this record:

    The effects of warming and nitrogen addition on ecosystem respiration in a Tibetan alpine meadow: The significance of winter warming
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