22 July 2015

Sensitivity of shrub growth in the Arctic

CENPERM has contributed to a new study synthesizing shrub growth data from 37 sites across the arctic tundra to explore spatial patterns in climate growth relationships.

The novel analyses in this study demonstrate that (1) the sensitivity of shrub growth is heterogeneous across the tundra biome, with shrubs in European sites showing greater sensitivity than shrubs growing in North American sites, and (2) the growth sensitivity to climate is stronger in sites with high soil moisture and tall shrubs. The climate sensitivity of shrub growth was greatest at sites located at the boundary between Low and High Arctic, where permafrost is thawing and most of the global permafrost soil carbon pool is stored. The observed variation in climate–shrub growth relationships should be incorporated into Earth system models to improve future projections of climate change impacts across the tundra biome.

Myers-Smith, I.H, Elmendorf, S.C., Beck, P.S.A., Wilmking, M., Hallinger, M., Blok, D., … Vellend, M. (2015) Climate sensitivity of shrub growth across the tundra biome. Nature Climate Change, online 6 Jul. DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2697