Changes in Greenland landscape affect carbon balance sheet

October 1, 2013 by Miles O'brien
Changes in Greenland landscape affect carbon balance sheet
Credit: Science Nation, National Science Foundation

Warming temperatures in the Arctic are changing the tundra from a landscape dominated by grasses to one increasingly dominated by woody shrubs. In addition to affecting the habitat of local wildlife such as caribou and musk oxen, these changes are also altering the carbon exchange between the plants and the atmosphere.

A better understanding of these changes and interactions may help to refine scientific predictions of how the Arctic will respond to future climate change.

This project comprises a four-year, passive experiment of low-Arctic tundra vegetation at a long-term study site in Greenland, whose primary aim is to measure the response of plant roots to warming and the role of this response in ecosystem exchange.

Phenology, the study of the annual timing and progression of events such as above-ground plant growth, is an important component of the ecology of climate change and has been widely studied, but below-ground ecology remains largely unexplored.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Credit: NSF

This study will estimate and compare above- and below-ground responses of plant phenology to warming and their respective contributions to ecosystem function, specifically the exchange of carbon between the atmosphere and . The study also hopes to determine which plant types— shrubs or grasses—show a greater below-ground response to warming and contribution to ecosystem carbon exchange.

Explore further: Arctic getting greener

Related Stories

Arctic getting greener

June 11, 2012

Recent years' warming in the Arctic has caused local changes in vegetation, reveals new research by biologists from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and elsewhere published in the prestigious journals Nature Climate ...

Caribou the missing piece of arctic warming puzzle

May 1, 2013

In the first study of its type in Canada, new research has shown caribou have a role to play in climate warming in the arctic. Despite declining herd numbers, caribou grazing is controlling plant growth in the arctic and ...

Plants can change greenhouse gas emissions after warming

August 21, 2013

(Phys.org) —Different moorland plants, particularly heather and cotton grass, can strongly influence climate warming effects on greenhouse gas emissions, researchers from Lancaster University, The University of Manchester ...

Recommended for you

New study sheds light on end of Snowball Earth period

August 24, 2015

The second ice age during the Cryogenian period was not followed by the sudden and chaotic melting-back of the ice as previously thought, but ended with regular advances and retreats of the ice, according to research published ...

Earth's mineralogy unique in the cosmos

August 26, 2015

New research from a team led by Carnegie's Robert Hazen predicts that Earth has more than 1,500 undiscovered minerals and that the exact mineral diversity of our planet is unique and could not be duplicated anywhere in the ...

3 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Shootist
1.6 / 5 (14) Oct 01, 2013
Changes in Greenland landscape affect carbon balance sheet


Have dairy farms returned to Greenland?

No, the climate is still too cold.

Waiting on dairy farms.
MikPetter
3.7 / 5 (6) Oct 02, 2013
Dairy farms in Greenland!! Get real, the Viking colony tried to farm a microscopic fraction if the southern coast and failed even then. They had to use raised fields to try and protect stock from the the freezing soil....
VendicarE
2.8 / 5 (4) Oct 02, 2013
"Have dairy farms returned to Greenland? " - ShooTard

How could they return when they never existed in the first place?

You have been told this a half dozen times.

Why do you persist in lying?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.