Changes in Greenland landscape affect carbon balance sheet

Oct 01, 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: Spain defends Canaries oil drilling plan

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Caribou the missing piece of arctic warming puzzle

May 01, 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 ...

Arctic getting greener

Jun 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 ...

Plants can change greenhouse gas emissions after warming

Aug 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 ...

Recommended for you

UN climate talks shuffle to a close in Bonn

2 hours ago

Concern was high at a perceived lack of urgency as UN climate negotiations shuffled towards a close in Bonn on Saturday with just 14 months left to finalise a new, global pact.

Study shows no lead pollution in oilsands region

Oct 24, 2014

New research from a world-renowned soil and water expert at the University of Alberta reveals that there's no atmospheric lead pollution in Alberta's oilsands region—a finding that contradicts current scientific ...

User comments : 3

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?