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  1. Here, we are conducting a large-scale, long-term climate change response experiment in an ombrotrophic peat bog in Minnesota to evaluate the effects of warming and elevated CO 2 on ecosystem processes using empirical and modeling approaches. To better frame future assessments of peatland responses to climate change, we characterized and compared spatial vs. temporal variation in measured C cycle processes and their environmental drivers. We also conducted a sensitivity analysis of a peatland C model to identify how variation in ecosystem parameters contributes to model prediction uncertainty. High spatial variability in C cycle processes resulted in the inability to determinemore » if the bog was a C source or sink, as the 95% confidence interval ranged from a source of 50 g C m –2 yr –1 to a sink of 67 g C m –2 yr –1. Model sensitivity analysis also identified that spatial variation in tree and shrub photosynthesis, allocation characteristics, and maintenance respiration all contributed to large variations in the pretreatment estimates of net C balance. Variation in ecosystem processes can be more thoroughly characterized if more measurements are collected for parameters that are highly variable over space and time, and especially if those measurements encompass environmental gradients that may be driving the spatial and temporal variation (e.g., hummock vs. hollow microtopographies, and wet vs. dry years). Together, the coupled modeling and empirical approaches indicate that variability in C cycle processes and their drivers must be taken into account when interpreting the significance of experimental warming and elevated CO 2 treatments.« less
  2. Large uncertainties exist in predicting responses of wetland methane (CH 4) fluxes to future climate change. However, sources of the uncertainty have not been clearly identified despite the fact that methane production and emission processes have been extensively explored. In this study, we took advantage of manual CH 4 flux measurements under ambient environment from 2011 to 2014 at the Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Changing Environments (SPRUCE) experimental site and developed a data-informed process-based methane module. The module was incorporated into the Terrestrial ECOsystem (TECO) model before its parameters were constrained with multiple years of methane flux data formore » forecasting CH 4 emission under five warming and two elevated CO 2 treatments at SPRUCE. We found that 9°C warming treatments significantly increased methane emission by approximately 400%, and elevated CO 2 treatments stimulated methane emission by 10.4%–23.6% in comparison with ambient conditions. The relative contribution of plant-mediated transport to methane emission decreased from 96% at the control to 92% at the 9°C warming, largely to compensate for an increase in ebullition. The uncertainty in plant-mediated transportation and ebullition increased with warming and contributed to the overall changes of emissions uncertainties. At the same time, our modeling results indicated a significant increase in the emitted CH 4:CO 2 ratio. This result, together with the larger warming potential of CH 4, will lead to a strong positive feedback from terrestrial ecosystems to climate warming. In conclusion, the model-data fusion approach used in this study enabled parameter estimation and uncertainty quantification for forecasting methane fluxes.« less
  3. We report that accurate simulation of soil thermal dynamics is essential for realistic prediction of soil biogeochemical responses to climate change. To facilitate ecological forecasting at the Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Climatic and Environmental change site, we incorporated a soil temperature module into a Terrestrial ECOsystem (TECO) model by accounting for surface energy budget, snow dynamics, and heat transfer among soil layers and during freeze-thaw events. We conditioned TECO with detailed soil temperature and snow depth observations through data assimilation before the model was used for forecasting. The constrained model reproduced variations in observed temperature from different soil layers,more » the magnitude of snow depth, the timing of snowfall and snowmelt, and the range of frozen depth. The conditioned TECO forecasted probabilistic distributions of soil temperature dynamics in six soil layers, snow, and frozen depths under temperature treatments of +0.0, +2.25, +4.5, +6.75, and +9.0°C. Air warming caused stronger elevation in soil temperature during summer than winter due to winter snow and ice. And soil temperature increased more in shallow soil layers in summer in response to air warming. Whole ecosystem warming (peat + air warmings) generally reduced snow and frozen depths. The accuracy of forecasted snow and frozen depths relied on the precision of weather forcing. Uncertainty is smaller for forecasting soil temperature but large for snow and frozen depths. Lastly, timely and effective soil thermal forecast, constrained through data assimilation that combines process-based understanding and detailed observations, provides boundary conditions for better predictions of future biogeochemical cycles.« less
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