Title: Climate sensitivity of shrub growth across the tundra biome
Authors: MYERS-SMITH Isla H.ELMENDORF SarahBECK PIETERWILMKING MartinHALLINGER MartinBLOK DaanTAPE Ken D.RAYBACK Shelly A.MACIAS-FAURIA MarcFORBES BruceSPEED James D. M.BOULANGER-LAPOINTE NoémieRIXEN ChristianLÉVESQUE EstherSCHMIDT Niels MartinBAITTINGER ClaudiaTRANT Andrew JHERMANUTZ LuiseCOLLIER Laura SiegwartDAWES Melissa A.LANTZ TrevorWEIJERS StefJØRGENSEN Rasmus HalfdanBUCHWAL AgataBURAS AllanNAITO Adam TRAVOLAINEN VirveSCHAEPMAN-STRUB GabrielaWHEELER Julia A.WIPF SonjaGUAY Kevin C.HIK DavidVELLEND Mark
Citation: NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE vol. 5 p. 887-891
Publisher: NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP
Publication Year: 2015
JRC N°: JRC90262
ISSN: 1758-678X
URI: http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate2697.html
http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC90262
DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2697
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: The tundra biome is experiencing rapid temperature increases that have been linked to a shift in tundra vegetation composition towards greater shrub dominance. Shrub expansion can amplify warming by altering the surface albedo, energy and water balance, and permafrost temperatures. To account for these feedbacks, global climate models must include realistic projections of vegetation dynamics, and in particular tundra shrub expansion, yet the mechanisms driving shrub expansion remain poorly understood. Dendroecological data consisting of multi-decadal time series of annual growth of shrub species provide a previously untapped resource to explore climate-growth relationships across the tundra biome. We analysed a dataset of approximately 42,000 annual growth records from 1821 individuals, comprising 25 species from eight genera, from 37 arctic and alpine sites. Our analyses demonstrate that the sensitivity of shrub growth to climate was (1) heterogeneous across the tundra biome, (2) greater at sites with higher soil moisture and (3) strongest for taller shrub species growing at the northern or upper elevational edge of their range. Across latitudinal gradients in the Arctic, climate sensitivity of growth was greatest at the boundary between low- and high-arctic vegetation zones, where permafrost conditions are changing and the majority of the global permafrost soil carbon pool is stored. Thus, in order to more accurately estimate feedbacks among shrub change, albedo, permafrost thaw, carbon storage and climate, the observed variation in climate-growth relationships of shrub species across the tundra biome will need to be incorporated into earth system models.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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