Arctic Boreal Processes That Feed Back to Climate

Extrapolation and Synthesis

Principal Investigator(s): 

F. Stuart Chapin

Changes in high-latitude ecosystems are likely to have major feedbacks to global climate through changes in carbon storage, trace-gas fluxes, and surface energy balance. These feedbacks to climate may occur as rapidly as any other changes on the earth's surface. However, there is currently considerable debate about even the sign of these climate feedbacks, much less their magnitude. Two limitations to estimating high-latitude feedbacks are:

  1. Lack of integration of process-level studies conducted over long time periods with estimates of regional variation in processes
  2. Lack of explicit tests of the extrapolation of results from one region to another

This workshop's intent is to address this gap for North American high-latitude ecosystems. Additionally, it sought to integrate understanding from five major high-latitude climate-feedback studies:

  • Arctic FLUX study
  • Canadian Northern Wetlands Study
  • Arctic and boreal LTER programs in Alaska

The workshop was split into two consecutive sessions, one on arctic/boreal vegetation change and surface energy balance (April 6-9), and a second on arctic/boreal CO2 and CH4 flux (April 10-13). Each session was a combination of presentations of current understanding and of Working Groups to discuss the discrepencies and complementarities of different perspectives.

Photo: L.B. Brubaker (NOAA photo [1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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