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Volume 10, issue 4
The Cryosphere, 10, 1395–1413, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-10-1395-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
The Cryosphere, 10, 1395–1413, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-10-1395-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 08 Jul 2016

Research article | 08 Jul 2016

Two years with extreme and little snowfall: effects on energy partitioning and surface energy exchange in a high-Arctic tundra ecosystem

Christian Stiegler1, Magnus Lund1,2, Torben Røjle Christensen1,2, Mikhail Mastepanov1,2, and Anders Lindroth1 Christian Stiegler et al.
  • 1Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University, Lund, Sölvegatan 12, 223 62 Lund, Sweden
  • 2Arctic Research Centre, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Roskilde, Frederiksborgvej 399, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark

Abstract. Snow cover is one of the key factors controlling Arctic ecosystem functioning and productivity. In this study we assess the impact of strong variability in snow accumulation during 2 subsequent years (2013–2014) on the land–atmosphere interactions and surface energy exchange in two high-Arctic tundra ecosystems (wet fen and dry heath) in Zackenberg, Northeast Greenland. We observed that record-low snow cover during the winter 2012/2013 resulted in a strong response of the heath ecosystem towards low evaporative capacity and substantial surface heat loss by sensible heat fluxes (H) during the subsequent snowmelt period and growing season. Above-average snow accumulation during the winter 2013/2014 promoted summertime ground heat fluxes (G) and latent heat fluxes (LE) at the cost of H. At the fen ecosystem a more muted response of LE, H and G was observed in response to the variability in snow accumulation. Overall, the differences in flux partitioning and in the length of the snowmelt periods and growing seasons during the 2 years had a strong impact on the total accumulation of the surface energy balance components. We suggest that in a changing climate with higher temperature and more precipitation the surface energy balance of this high-Arctic tundra ecosystem may experience a further increase in the variability of energy accumulation, partitioning and redistribution.

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In this study we investigate the impact of strong variability in snow accumulation during 2 subsequent years (2013–2014) on the land–atmosphere interactions and surface energy exchange in two high-Arctic tundra ecosystems (wet fen and dry heath) in Zackenberg, Northeast Greenland. We observe that the energy balance during the snowmelt periods and growing seasons was strongly regulated by the availability of snow meltwater, with strong impact on the overall ecosystem performance.
In this study we investigate the impact of strong variability in snow accumulation during 2...
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