Evaluating temporal controls on greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes in an Arctic tundra environment: An entropy-based approach

TitleEvaluating temporal controls on greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes in an Arctic tundra environment: An entropy-based approach
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsArora, B., H.M. Wainwright, D. Dwivedi, L.J.S. Vaughn, J.B. Curtis, M.S. Torn, B. Dafflon, and S.S. Hubbard
JournalScience of The Total Environment
Pagination284 - 299
Date Published01/2019
KeywordsCH4 fluxes, climate change, CO2 fluxes, polygonal tundra

There is significant spatial and temporal variability associated with greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes in high-latitude Arctic tundra environments. The objectives of this study are to investigate temporal variability in CO2 and CH4 fluxes at Barrow, AK and to determine the factors causing this variability using a novel entropy-based classification scheme. In particular, we analyzed which geomorphic, soil, vegetation and climatic properties most explained the variability in GHG fluxes (opaque chamber measurements) during the growing season over three successive years. Results indicate that multi-year variability in CO2 fluxes was primarily associated with soil temperature variability as well as vegetation dynamics during the early and late growing season. Temporal variability in CH4 fluxes was primarily associated with changes in vegetation during the growing season and its interactions with primary controls like seasonal thaw. Polygonal ground features, which are common to Arctic regions, also demonstrated significant multi-year variability in GHG fluxes. Our results can be used to prioritize field sampling strategies, with an emphasis on measurements collected at locations and times that explain the most variability in GHG fluxes. For example, we found that sampling primary environmental controls at the centers of high centered polygons in the month of September (when freeze-back period begins) can provide significant constraints on GHG flux variability – a requirement for accurately predicting future changes to GHG fluxes. Overall, entropy results document the impact of changing environmental conditions (e.g., warming, growing season length) on GHG fluxes, thus providing clues concerning the manner in which ecosystem properties may be shifted regionally in a future climate.