Despite multiple studies investigating the environmental controls on CH4 fluxes from arctic tundra ecosystems, the high spatial variability of CH4 emissions is not fully understood. This makes the upscaling of CH4 fluxes from plot to regional scale, particularly challenging. The goal of this study is to refine our knowledge of the spatial variability and controls on CH4emission from tundra ecosystems.
CH4 fluxes were measured in four sites across a variety of wet-sedge and tussock tundra ecosystems in Alaska using chambers and a Los Gatos CO2 and CH4 gas analyser.
All sites were found to be sources of CH4, with northern sites (in Barrow) showing similar CH4emission rates to the southernmost site (ca. 300 km south, Ivotuk). Gross primary productivity (GPP), water level and soil temperature were the most important environmental controls on CH4 emission. Greater vascular plant cover was linked with higher CH4 emission, but this increased emission with increased vascular plant cover was much higher (86 %) in the drier sites, than the wettest sites (30 %), suggesting that transport and/or substrate availability were crucial limiting factors for CH4 emission in these tundra ecosystems.
Overall, this study provides an increased understanding of the fine scale spatial controls on CH4 flux, in particular the key role that plant cover and GPP play in enhancing CH4 emissions from tundra soils.