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Re-assessment of the climatic controls on the carbon and water fluxes of a boreal aspen forest over 1996-2016: changing sensitivity to long-term climatic conditions

Citation

Liu, Peng et al. (2022), Re-assessment of the climatic controls on the carbon and water fluxes of a boreal aspen forest over 1996-2016: changing sensitivity to long-term climatic conditions, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.c866t1g8n

Abstract

Recent evidence suggests that the relationships between climate and boreal tree growth are generally non-stationary; however, it remains uncertain whether the relationships between climate and carbon (C) fluxes of boreal forests are stationary or have changed over recent decades. In this study, we used continuous eddy-covariance and microclimate data over 21 years (1996-2016) from a 100-year-old trembling aspen stand in central Saskatchewan, Canada to assess the relationships between climate and ecosystem C and water fluxes. Over the study period, the most striking climatic event was a severe, 3-year drought (2001-2003). Gross ecosystem production (GEP) showed larger interannual variability than ecosystem respiration (Re) over 1996-2016, but Re was the dominant component contributing to the interannual variation in net ecosystem production (NEP) during post-drought years. The inter-annual variations in evapotranspiration (ET) and C fluxes were primarily driven by temperature and secondarily by water availability. Two-factor linear models combining precipitation and temperature performed well in explaining the inter-annual variation in C and water fluxes (R2>0.5). The temperature dependence of all three C fluxes (NEP, GEP and Re) declined over 1996-2015 (p<0.05), and as a result, the phenological controls on annual NEP weakened. The decreasing temperature sensitivity of the C fluxes over 1996-2015 may reflect changes in forest structure, related to the over-maturity of the aspen stand at 100-years of age and exacerbated by high tree mortality following the severe 2001-2003 drought. These results may provide an early warning signal of driver shift or even an abrupt status shift of aspen forest dynamics. They may also imply a universal weakening in the relationship between temperature and GEP as forests become over-mature, associated with the structural and compositional changes that accompany forest ageing.

Funding

National Key R & D Program of China, Award: 2020YFA0608100