McClelland James W.

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James W.

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  • Article
    Recent changes in nitrate and dissolved organic carbon export from the upper Kuparuk River, North Slope, Alaska
    (American Geophysical Union, 2007-11-08) McClelland, James W. ; Stieglitz, Marc ; Pan, Feifei ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    Export of nitrate and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from the upper Kuparuk River between the late 1970s and early 2000s was evaluated using long-term ecological research (LTER) data in combination with solute flux and catchment hydrology models. The USGS Load Estimator (LOADEST) was used to calculate June–August export from 1978 forward. LOADEST was then coupled with a catchment-based land surface model (CLSM) to estimate total annual export from 1991 to 2001. Simulations using the LOADEST/CLSM combination indicate that annual nitrate export from the upper Kuparuk River increased by ~5 fold and annual DOC export decreased by about one half from 1991 to 2001. The decrease in DOC export was focused in May and was primarily attributed to a decrease in river discharge. In contrast, increased nitrate export was evident from May to September and was primarily attributed to increased nitrate concentrations. Increased nitrate concentrations are evident across a wide range of discharge conditions, indicating that higher values do not simply reflect lower discharge in recent years but a significant shift to higher concentration per unit discharge. Nitrate concentrations remained elevated after 2001. However, extraordinarily low discharge during June 2004 and June–August 2005 outweighed the influence of higher concentrations in determining export during these years. The mechanism responsible for the recent increase in nitrate concentrations is uncertain but may relate to changes in soils and vegetation associated with regional warming. While changes in nitrate and DOC export from arctic rivers reflect changes in terrestrial ecosystems, they also have significant implications for Arctic Ocean ecosystems.
  • Article
    Isotopic signals (18O, 2H, 3H) of six major rivers draining the pan-Arctic watershed
    (American Geophysical Union, 2012-03-22) Yi, Y. ; Gibson, J. J. ; Cooper, Lee W. ; Helie, J.-F. ; Birks, S. J. ; McClelland, James W. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    We present the results of a 4-year collaborative sampling effort that measured δ18O, δ2H values and 3H activities in the six largest Arctic rivers (the Ob, Yenisey, Lena, Kolyma, Yukon and Mackenzie). Using consistent sampling and data processing protocols, these isotopic measurements provide the best available δ2H and 3H estimates for freshwater fluxes from the pan-Arctic watershed to the Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas, which complements previous efforts with δ18O and other tracers. Flow-weighted annual δ2H values vary from −113.3‰ to −171.4‰ among rivers. Annual 3H fluxes vary from 0.68 g to 4.12 g among basins. The integration of conventional hydrological and landscape observations with stable water isotope signals, and estimation of areal yield of 3H provide useful insights for understanding water sources, mixing and evaporation losses in these river basins. For example, an inverse correlation between the slope of the δ18O-δ2H relation and wetland extent indicates that wetlands play comparatively important roles affecting evaporation losses in the Yukon and Mackenzie basins. Tritium areal yields (ranging from 0.760 to 1.695 10−6 g/km2 per year) are found to be positively correlated with permafrost coverage within the studied drainage basins. Isotope-discharge relationships demonstrate both linear and nonlinear response patterns, which highlights the complexity of hydrological processes in large Arctic river basins. These isotope observations and their relationship to discharge and landscape features indicate that basin-specific characteristics significantly influence hydrological processes in the pan-Arctic watershed.
  • Article
    River export of nutrients and organic matter from the North Slope of Alaska to the Beaufort Sea
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2014-02-28) McClelland, James W. ; Townsend-Small, Amy ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Pan, Feifei ; Stieglitz, Marc ; Khosh, Matt ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    While river-borne materials are recognized as important resources supporting coastal ecosystems around the world, estimates of river export from the North Slope of Alaska have been limited by a scarcity of water chemistry and river discharge data. This paper quantifies water, nutrient, and organic matter export from the three largest rivers (Sagavanirktok, Kuparuk, and Colville) that drain Alaska's North Slope and discusses the potential importance of river inputs for biological production in coastal waters of the Alaskan Beaufort Sea. Together these rivers export ∼297,000 metric tons of organic carbon and ∼18,000 metric tons of organic nitrogen each year. Annual fluxes of nitrate-N, ammonium-N, and soluble reactive phosphorus are approximately 1750, 200, and 140 metric tons per year, respectively. Constituent export from Alaska's North Slope is dominated by the Colville River. This is in part due to its larger size, but also because constituent yields are greater in the Colville watershed. River-supplied nitrogen may be more important to productivity along the Alaskan Beaufort Sea coast than previously thought. However, given the dominance of organic nitrogen export, the potential role of river-supplied nitrogen in support of primary production depends strongly on remineralization mechanisms. Although rivers draining the North Slope of Alaska make only a small contribution to overall river export from the pan-arctic watershed, comparisons with major arctic rivers reveal unique regional characteristics as well as remarkable similarities among different regions and scales. Such information is crucial for development of robust river export models that represent the arctic system as a whole.
  • Article
    Increasing river discharge in the Eurasian Arctic : consideration of dams, permafrost thaw, and fires as potential agents of change
    (American Geophysical Union, 2004-09-17) McClelland, James W. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Stieglitz, Marc
    Discharge from Eurasian rivers to the Arctic Ocean has increased significantly in recent decades, but the reason for this trend remains unclear. Increased net atmospheric moisture transport from lower to higher latitudes in a warming climate has been identified as one potential mechanism. However, uncertainty associated with estimates of precipitation in the Arctic makes it difficult to confirm whether or not this mechanism is responsible for the change in discharge. Three alternative mechanisms are dam construction and operation, permafrost thaw, and increasing forest fires. Here we evaluate the potential influence of these three mechanisms on changes in discharge from the six largest Eurasian Arctic rivers (Yenisey, Ob', Lena, Kolyma, Pechora, and Severnaya Dvina) between 1936 and 1999. Comprehensive discharge records made it possible to evaluate the influence of dams directly. Data on permafrost thaw and fires in the watersheds of the Eurasian Arctic rivers are more limited. We therefore use a combination of data and modeling scenarios to explore the potential of these two mechanisms as drivers of increasing discharge. Dams have dramatically altered the seasonality of discharge but are not responsible for increases in annual values. Both thawing of permafrost and increased fires may have contributed to changes in discharge, but neither can be considered a major driver. Cumulative thaw depths required to produce the observed increases in discharge are unreasonable: Even if all of the water from thawing permafrost were converted to discharge, a minimum of 4 m thawed evenly across the combined permafrost area of the six major Eurasian Arctic watersheds would have been required. Similarly, sensitivity analysis shows that the increases in fires that would have been necessary to drive the changes in discharge are unrealistic. Of the potential drivers considered here, increasing northward transport of moisture as a result of global warming remains the most viable explanation for the observed increases in Eurasian Arctic river discharge.
  • Article
    The processing and impact of dissolved riverine nitrogen in the Arctic Ocean
    (Springer, 2011-06-11) Tank, Suzanne E. ; Manizza, Manfredi ; Holmes, Robert M. ; McClelland, James W. ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    Although the Arctic Ocean is the most riverine-influenced of all of the world’s oceans, the importance of terrigenous nutrients in this environment is poorly understood. This study couples estimates of circumpolar riverine nutrient fluxes from the PARTNERS (Pan-Arctic River Transport of Nutrients, Organic Matter, and Suspended Sediments) Project with a regionally configured version of the MIT general circulation model to develop estimates of the distribution and availability of dissolved riverine N in the Arctic Ocean, assess its importance for primary production, and compare these estimates to potential bacterial production fueled by riverine C. Because riverine dissolved organic nitrogen is remineralized slowly, riverine N is available for uptake well into the open ocean. Despite this, we estimate that even when recycling is considered, riverine N may support 0.5–1.5 Tmol C year−1 of primary production, a small proportion of total Arctic Ocean photosynthesis. Rapid uptake of dissolved inorganic nitrogen coupled with relatively high rates of dissolved organic nitrogen regeneration in N-limited nearshore regions, however, leads to potential localized rates of riverine-supported photosynthesis that represent a substantial proportion of nearshore production.
  • Preprint
    An analysis of the carbon balance of the Arctic Basin from 1997 to 2006
    ( 2010-06-18) McGuire, A. David ; Hayes, Daniel J. ; Kicklighter, David W. ; Manizza, Manfredi ; Zhuang, Qianlai ; Chen, Min ; Follows, Michael J. ; Gurney, Kevin R. ; McClelland, James W. ; Melillo, Jerry M. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Prinn, Ronald G.
    This study used several model-based tools to analyze the dynamics of the Arctic Basin between 1997 and 2006 as a linked system of land-ocean-atmosphere C exchange. The analysis estimates that terrestrial areas of the Arctic Basin lost 62.9 Tg C yr-1 and that the Arctic Ocean gained 94.1 Tg C yr-1. Arctic lands and oceans were a net CO2 sink of 108.9 Tg C yr-1, which is within the range of uncertainty in estimates from atmospheric inversions. Although both lands and oceans of the Arctic were estimated to be CO2 sinks, the land sink diminished in strength because of increased fire disturbance compared to previous decades, while the ocean sink increased in strength because of increased biological pump activity associated with reduced sea ice cover. Terrestrial areas of the Arctic were a net source of 41.5 Tg CH4 yr-1 that increased by 0.6 Tg CH4 yr-1 during the decade of analysis, a magnitude that is comparable with an atmospheric inversion of CH4. Because the radiative forcing of the estimated CH4 emissions is much greater than the CO2 sink, the analysis suggests that the Arctic Basin is a substantial net source of green house gas forcing to the climate system.
  • Preprint
    Macrophyte abundance in Waquoit Bay : effects of land-derived nitrogen loads on seasonal and multi-year biomass patterns
    ( 2008-01) Fox, Sophia E. ; Stieve, Erica ; Valiela, Ivan ; Hauxwell, Jennifer ; McClelland, James W.
    Anthropogenic inputs of nutrients to coastal waters have rapidly restructured coastal ecosystems. To examine the response of macrophyte communities to land-derived nitrogen loading, we measured macrophyte biomass monthly for six years in three estuaries subject to different nitrogen loads owing to different land uses on the watersheds. The set of estuaries sampled had nitrogen loads over the broad range of 12 to 601 kg N ha-1 y-1. Macrophyte biomass increased as nitrogen loads increased, but the response of individual taxa varied. Specifically, biomass of Cladophora vagabunda and Gracilaria tikvahiae increased significantly as nitrogen loads increased. The biomass of other macroalgal taxa tended to decrease with increasing load, and the relative proportion of these taxa to total macrophyte biomass also decreased. The seagrass, Zostera marina, disappeared from the higher loaded estuaries, but remained abundant in the estuary with the lowest load. Seasonal changes in macroalgal standing stock were also affected by nitrogen load, with larger fluctuations in biomass across the year and higher minimum biomass of macroalgae in the higher loaded estuaries. There were no significant changes in macrophyte biomass over the six years of this study, but there was a slight trend of increasing macroalgal biomass in the latter years. Macroalgal biomass was not related to irradiance or temperature, but Z. marina biomass was highest during the summer months when light and temperatures peak. Irradiance might, however, be a secondary limiting factor controlling macroalgal biomass in the higher loaded estuaries by restricting the depth of the macroalgal canopy. The relationship between the bloom-forming macroalgal species, C. vagabunda and G. tikvahiae, and nitrogen loads suggested a strong connection between development on watersheds and macroalgal blooms and loss of seagrasses. The influence of watershed land uses largely overwhelmed seasonal and inter-annual differences in standing stock of macrophytes in these temperate estuaries.
  • Article
    Lability of DOC transported by Alaskan rivers to the Arctic Ocean
    (American Geophysical Union, 2008-02-09) Holmes, Robert M. ; McClelland, James W. ; Raymond, Peter A. ; Frazer, Breton B. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Stieglitz, Marc
    Arctic rivers transport huge quantities of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) to the Arctic Ocean. The prevailing paradigm is that DOC in arctic rivers is refractory and therefore of little significance for the biogeochemistry of the Arctic Ocean. We show that there is substantial seasonal variability in the lability of DOC transported by Alaskan rivers to the Arctic Ocean: little DOC is lost during incubations of samples collected during summer, but substantial losses (20–40%) occur during incubations of samples collected during the spring freshet when the majority of the annual DOC flux occurs. We speculate that restricting sampling to summer may have biased past studies. If so, then fluvial inputs of DOC to the Arctic Ocean may have a much larger influence on coastal ocean biogeochemistry than previously realized, and reconsideration of the role of terrigenous DOC on carbon, microbial, and food-web dynamics on the arctic shelf will be warranted.
  • Preprint
    Trajectory shifts in the Arctic and Subarctic freshwater cycle
    ( 2006-06-22) Peterson, Bruce J. ; McClelland, James W. ; Curry, Ruth G. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Walsh, John E. ; Aagaard, Knut
    Manifold changes in the freshwater cycle of high-latitude lands and oceans have been reported in the past few years. A synthesis of these changes in sources of freshwater and in ocean freshwater storage illustrates the complementary and synoptic temporal pattern and magnitude of these changes over the past 50 years. Increasing river discharge anomalies and excess net precipitation on the ocean contributed ~20,000 km3 of fresh water to the Arctic and high latitude North Atlantic oceans from lows in the 1960s to highs in the 1990s. Sea ice attrition provided another ~15,000 km3, and glacial melt added ~2000 km3. The sum of anomalous inputs from these freshwater sources matched the amount and rate at which fresh water accumulated in the North Atlantic during much of the period from 1965 through 1995. The changes in freshwater inputs and ocean storage occurred in conjunction with the amplifying North Atlantic Oscillation and rising air temperatures. Fresh water may now be accumulating in the Arctic Ocean and will likely be exported southward if and when the North Atlantic Oscillation enters into a new high phase.
  • Article
    A pan-arctic evaluation of changes in river discharge during the latter half of the 20th century
    (American Geophysical Union, 2006-03-30) McClelland, James W. ; Dery, Stephen J. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Wood, Eric F.
    Several recent publications have documented changes in river discharge from arctic and subarctic watersheds. Comparison of these findings, however, has been hampered by differences in time periods and methods of analysis. Here we compare changes in discharge from different regions of the pan-arctic watershed using identical time periods and analytical methods. Discharge to the Arctic Ocean increased by 5.6 km3/y/y during 1964-2000, the net result of a large increase from Eurasia moderated by a small decrease from North America. In contrast, discharge to Hudson/James/Ungava Bays decreased by 2.5 km3/y/y during 1964-2000. While this evaluation identifies an overall increase in discharge (~120 km3/y greater discharge at the end of the time period as compared to the beginning for Hudson/James/Unvaga Bays and the Arctic Ocean combined), the contrasting regional trends also highlight the need to understand the consequences of adding/removing freshwater from particular regions of the arctic and subarctic oceans.
  • Dataset
    Chemical data associated with field collections from the Gulf of Maine, Nauset Marsh Estuary System, and Long Island Sound (Alexandrium isotopes project)
    (Biological and Chemical Oceanography Data Management Office (BCO-DMO). Contact:, 2019-03-20) Smith, Juliette L. ; Anderson, Donald M. ; Erdner, Deana L. ; McClelland, James W.
    Chemical data associated with field collections from the Gulf of Maine, Nauset Marsh Estuary System, and Long Island Sound (Alexandrium isotopes project) For a complete list of measurements, refer to the full dataset description in the supplemental file 'Dataset_description.pdf'. The most current version of this dataset is available at:
  • Article
    Macrophytes as indicators of land-derived wastewater : application of a δ15N method in aquatic systems
    (American Geophysical Union, 2005-01-25) Cole, Marci L. ; Kroeger, Kevin D. ; McClelland, James W. ; Valiela, Ivan
    We measured δ15N signatures of macrophytes and particulate organic matter (POM) in six estuaries and three freshwater ponds of Massachusetts to assess whether the signatures could be used as indicators of the magnitude of land-derived nitrogen loads, concentration of dissolved inorganic nitrogen in the water column, and percentage of N loads contributed by wastewater disposal. The study focused specifically on sites on Cape Cod and Nantucket Island, in the northeastern United States. There was no evidence of seasonal changes in δ15N values of macrophytes or POM. The δ15N values of macrophytes and POM increased as water column dissolved inorganic nitrogen concentrations increased. We found that δ15N of macrophytes, but not of POM, increased as N load increased. The δ15N values of macrophytes and groundwater NO3 tracked the percent of wastewater contribution linearly. This research confirms that δ15N values of macrophytes and NO3 can be excellent indicators of anthropogenic N in aquatic systems.
  • Article
    Modeling transport and fate of riverine dissolved organic carbon in the Arctic Ocean
    (American Geophysical Union, 2009-10-07) Manizza, Manfredi ; Follows, Michael J. ; Dutkiewicz, Stephanie ; McClelland, James W. ; Menemenlis, Dimitris ; Hill, C. N. ; Townsend-Small, Amy ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    The spatial distribution and fate of riverine dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in the Arctic may be significant for the regional carbon cycle but are difficult to fully characterize using the sparse observations alone. Numerical models of the circulation and biogeochemical cycles of the region can help to interpret and extrapolate the data and may ultimately be applied in global change sensitivity studies. Here we develop and explore a regional, three-dimensional model of the Arctic Ocean in which, for the first time, we explicitly represent the sources of riverine DOC with seasonal discharge based on climatological field estimates. Through a suite of numerical experiments, we explore the distribution of DOC-like tracers with realistic riverine sources and a simple linear decay to represent remineralization through microbial degradation. The model reproduces the slope of the DOC-salinity relationship observed in the eastern and western Arctic basins when the DOC tracer lifetime is about 10 years, consistent with published inferences from field data. The new empirical parameterization of riverine DOC and the regional circulation and biogeochemical model provide new tools for application in both regional and global change studies.
  • Preprint
    Effects of watershed land use on nitrogen concentrations and δ15 Nitrogen in groundwater
    ( 2005-07-18) Cole, Marci L. ; Kroeger, Kevin D. ; McClelland, James W. ; Valiela, Ivan
    Eutrophication is a major agent of change affecting freshwater, estuarine, and marine systems. It is largely driven by transportation of nitrogen from natural and anthropogenic sources. Research is needed to quantify this nitrogen delivery and to link the delivery to specific land-derived sources. In this study we measured nitrogen concentrations and δ15N values in seepage water entering three freshwater ponds and six estuaries on Cape Cod, Massachusetts and assessed how they varied with different types of land use. Nitrate concentrations and δ15N values in groundwater reflected land use in developed and pristine watersheds. In particular, watersheds with larger populations delivered larger nitrate loads with higher δ15N values to receiving waters. The enriched δ15N values confirmed nitrogen loading model results identifying wastewater contributions from septic tanks as the major N source. Furthermore, it was apparent that N coastal sources had a relatively larger impact on the N loads and isotopic signatures than did inland N sources further upstream in the watersheds. This finding suggests that management priorities could focus on coastal sources as a first course of action. This would require management constraints on a much smaller population.
  • Article
    The Arctic freshwater system : changes and impacts
    (American Geophysical Union, 2007-11-20) White, Daniel ; Hinzman, Larry ; Alessa, Lilian ; Cassano, John ; Chambers, Molly ; Falkner, Kelly ; Francis, Jennifer ; Gutowski, William J. ; Holland, Marika M. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Huntington, Henry ; Kane, Douglas ; Kliskey, Andrew ; Lee, Craig M. ; McClelland, James W. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Rupp, T. Scott ; Straneo, Fiamma ; Steele, Michael ; Woodgate, Rebecca ; Yang, Daqing ; Yoshikawa, Kenji ; Zhang, Tingjun
    Dramatic changes have been observed in the Arctic over the last century. Many of these involve the storage and cycling of fresh water. On land, precipitation and river discharge, lake abundance and size, glacier area and volume, soil moisture, and a variety of permafrost characteristics have changed. In the ocean, sea ice thickness and areal coverage have decreased and water mass circulation patterns have shifted, changing freshwater pathways and sea ice cover dynamics. Precipitation onto the ocean surface has also changed. Such changes are expected to continue, and perhaps accelerate, in the coming century, enhanced by complex feedbacks between the oceanic, atmospheric, and terrestrial freshwater systems. Change to the arctic freshwater system heralds changes for our global physical and ecological environment as well as human activities in the Arctic. In this paper we review observed changes in the arctic freshwater system over the last century in terrestrial, atmospheric, and oceanic systems.
  • Preprint
    Seasonal and annual fluxes of nutrients and organic matter from large rivers to the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas
    ( 2011-03) Holmes, Robert M. ; McClelland, James W. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Tank, Suzanne E. ; Bulygina, Ekaterina ; Eglinton, Timothy I. ; Gordeev, Viacheslav V. ; Gurtovaya, Tatiana Y. ; Raymond, Peter A. ; Repeta, Daniel J. ; Staples, Robin ; Striegl, Robert G. ; Zhulidov, Alexander V. ; Zimov, Sergey A.
    River inputs of nutrients and organic matter impact the biogeochemistry of arctic estuaries and the Arctic Ocean as a whole, yet there is considerable uncertainty about the magnitude of fluvial fluxes at the pan-arctic scale. Samples from the six largest arctic rivers, with a combined watershed area of 11.3 x 106 km2, have revealed strong seasonal variations in constituent concentrations and fluxes within rivers as well as large differences among the rivers. Specifically, we investigate fluxes of dissolved organic carbon, dissolved organic nitrogen, total dissolved phosphorus, dissolved inorganic nitrogen, nitrate, and silica. This is the first time that seasonal and annual constituent fluxes have been determined using consistent sampling and analytical methods at the pan arctic scale, and consequently provide the best available estimates for constituent flux from land to the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas. Given the large inputs of river water to the relatively small Arctic Ocean, and the dramatic impacts that climate change is having in the Arctic, it is particularly urgent that we establish the contemporary river fluxes so that we will be able to detect future changes and evaluate the impact of the changes on the biogeochemistry of the receiving coastal and ocean systems.
  • Article
    Biomass offsets little or none of permafrost carbon release from soils, streams, and wildfire : an expert assessment
    (IOPScience, 2016-03-07) Abbott, Benjamin W. ; Jones, Jeremy B. ; Schuur, Edward A. G. ; Chapin, F. Stuart ; Bowden, William B. ; Bret-Harte, M. Syndonia ; Epstein, Howard E. ; Flannigan, Michael ; Harms, Tamara K. ; Hollingsworth, Teresa N. ; Mack, Michelle C. ; McGuire, A. David ; Natali, Susan M. ; Rocha, Adrian V. ; Tank, Suzanne E. ; Turetsky, Merritt R. ; Vonk, Jorien E. ; Wickland, Kimberly ; Aiken, George R. ; Alexander, Heather D. ; Amon, Rainer M. W. ; Benscoter, Brian ; Bergeron, Yves ; Bishop, Kevin ; Blarquez, Olivier ; Bond-Lamberty, Benjamin ; Breen, Amy L. ; Buffam, Ishi ; Cai, Yihua ; Carcaillet, Christopher ; Carey, Sean K. ; Chen, Jing M. ; Chen, Han Y. H. ; Christensen, Torben R. ; Cooper, Lee W. ; Cornelissen, Johannes H. C. ; de Groot, William J. ; DeLuca, Thomas Henry ; Dorrepaal, Ellen ; Fetcher, Ned ; Finlay, Jacques C. ; Forbes, Bruce C. ; French, Nancy H. F. ; Gauthier, Sylvie ; Girardin, Martin ; Goetz, Scott J. ; Goldammer, Johann G. ; Gough, Laura ; Grogan, Paul ; Guo, Laodong ; Higuera, Philip E. ; Hinzman, Larry ; Hu, Feng Sheng ; Hugelius, Gustaf ; JAFAROV, ELCHIN ; Jandt, Randi ; Johnstone, Jill F. ; Karlsson, Jan ; Kasischke, Eric S. ; Kattner, Gerhard ; Kelly, Ryan ; Keuper, Frida ; Kling, George W. ; Kortelainen, Pirkko ; Kouki, Jari ; Kuhry, Peter ; Laudon, Hjalmar ; Laurion, Isabelle ; Macdonald, Robie W. ; Mann, Paul J. ; Martikainen, Pertti ; McClelland, James W. ; Molau, Ulf ; Oberbauer, Steven F. ; Olefeldt, David ; Paré, David ; Parisien, Marc-André ; Payette, Serge ; Peng, Changhui ; Pokrovsky, Oleg ; Rastetter, Edward B. ; Raymond, Peter A. ; Raynolds, Martha K. ; Rein, Guillermo ; Reynolds, James F. ; Robards, Martin ; Rogers, Brendan ; Schädel, Christina ; Schaefer, Kevin ; Schmidt, Inger K. ; Shvidenko, Anatoly ; Sky, Jasper ; Spencer, Robert G. M. ; Starr, Gregory ; Striegl, Robert ; Teisserenc, Roman ; Tranvik, Lars J. ; Virtanen, Tarmo ; Welker, Jeffrey M. ; Zimov, Sergey A.
    As the permafrost region warms, its large organic carbon pool will be increasingly vulnerable to decomposition, combustion, and hydrologic export. Models predict that some portion of this release will be offset by increased production of Arctic and boreal biomass; however, the lack of robust estimates of net carbon balance increases the risk of further overshooting international emissions targets. Precise empirical or model-based assessments of the critical factors driving carbon balance are unlikely in the near future, so to address this gap, we present estimates from 98 permafrost-region experts of the response of biomass, wildfire, and hydrologic carbon flux to climate change. Results suggest that contrary to model projections, total permafrost-region biomass could decrease due to water stress and disturbance, factors that are not adequately incorporated in current models. Assessments indicate that end-of-the-century organic carbon release from Arctic rivers and collapsing coastlines could increase by 75% while carbon loss via burning could increase four-fold. Experts identified water balance, shifts in vegetation community, and permafrost degradation as the key sources of uncertainty in predicting future system response. In combination with previous findings, results suggest the permafrost region will become a carbon source to the atmosphere by 2100 regardless of warming scenario but that 65%–85% of permafrost carbon release can still be avoided if human emissions are actively reduced.
  • Article
    A land-to-ocean perspective on the magnitude, source and implication of DIC flux from major Arctic rivers to the Arctic Ocean
    (American Geophysical Union, 2012-12-14) Tank, Suzanne E. ; Raymond, Peter A. ; Striegl, Robert G. ; McClelland, James W. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Fiske, Gregory J. ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    A series of seasonally distributed measurements from the six largest Arctic rivers (the Ob', Yenisey, Lena, Kolyma, Yukon and Mackenzie) was used to examine the magnitude and significance of Arctic riverine DIC flux to larger scale C dynamics within the Arctic system. DIC concentration showed considerable, and synchronous, seasonal variation across these six large Arctic rivers, which have an estimated combined annual DIC flux of 30 Tg C yr−1. By examining the relationship between DIC flux and landscape variables known to regulate riverine DIC, we extrapolate to a DIC flux of 57 ± 9.9 Tg C yr−1for the full pan-arctic basin, and show that DIC export increases with runoff, the extent of carbonate rocks and glacial coverage, but decreases with permafrost extent. This pan-arctic riverine DIC estimate represents 13–15% of the total global DIC flux. The annual flux of selected ions (HCO3−, Na+, Ca2+, Mg2+, Sr2+, and Cl−) from the six largest Arctic rivers confirms that chemical weathering is dominated by inputs from carbonate rocks in the North American watersheds, but points to a more important role for silicate rocks in Siberian watersheds. In the coastal ocean, river water-induced decreases in aragonite saturation (i.e., an ocean acidification effect) appears to be much more pronounced in Siberia than in the North American Arctic, and stronger in the winter and spring than in the late summer. Accounting for seasonal variation in the flux of DIC and other major ions gives a much clearer understanding of the importance of riverine DIC within the broader pan-arctic C cycle.
  • Article
    Particulate organic carbon and nitrogen export from major Arctic rivers
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2016-05-11) McClelland, James W. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Raymond, Peter A. ; Striegl, Robert ; Zhulidov, Alexander V. ; Zimov, Sergey A. ; Zimov, Nikita ; Tank, Suzanne E. ; Spencer, Robert G. M. ; Staples, Robin ; Gurtovaya, Tatiana Y. ; Griffin, Claire G.
    Northern rivers connect a land area of approximately 20.5 million km2 to the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas. These rivers account for ~10% of global river discharge and transport massive quantities of dissolved and particulate materials that reflect watershed sources and impact biogeochemical cycling in the ocean. In this paper, multiyear data sets from a coordinated sampling program are used to characterize particulate organic carbon (POC) and particulate nitrogen (PN) export from the six largest rivers within the pan-Arctic watershed (Yenisey, Lena, Ob', Mackenzie, Yukon, Kolyma). Together, these rivers export an average of 3055 × 109 g of POC and 368 × 109 g of PN each year. Scaled up to the pan-Arctic watershed as a whole, fluvial export estimates increase to 5767 × 109 g and 695 × 109 g of POC and PN per year, respectively. POC export is substantially lower than dissolved organic carbon export by these rivers, whereas PN export is roughly equal to dissolved nitrogen export. Seasonal patterns in concentrations and source/composition indicators (C:N, δ13C, Δ14C, δ15N) are broadly similar among rivers, but distinct regional differences are also evident. For example, average radiocarbon ages of POC range from ~2000 (Ob') to ~5500 (Mackenzie) years before present. Rapid changes within the Arctic system as a consequence of global warming make it challenging to establish a contemporary baseline of fluvial export, but the results presented in this paper capture variability and quantify average conditions for nearly a decade at the beginning of the 21st century.
  • Article
    Seasonal and hydrologic drivers of dissolved organic matter and nutrients in the upper Kuparuk River, Alaskan Arctic
    (Springer, 2010-05-08) Townsend-Small, Amy ; McClelland, James W. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    As the planet warms, widespread changes in Arctic hydrology and biogeochemistry have been documented and these changes are expected to accelerate in the future. Improved understanding of the behavior of water-borne constituents in Arctic rivers with varying hydrologic conditions, including seasonal variations in discharge–concentration relationships, will improve our ability to anticipate future changes in biogeochemical budgets due to changing hydrology. We studied the relationship between seasonal water discharge and dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen (DOC and DON) and nutrient concentrations in the upper Kuparuk River, Arctic Alaska. Fluxes of most constituents were highest during initial snowmelt runoff in spring, indicating that this historically under-studied period contributes significantly to total annual export. In particular, the initial snowmelt period (the stream is completely frozen during the winter) accounted for upwards of 35% of total export of DOC and DON estimated for the entire study period. DOC and DON concentrations were positively correlated with discharge whereas nitrate (NO3 −) and silicate were negatively correlated with discharge throughout the study. However, discharge-specific DOC and DON concentrations (i.e. concentrations compared at the same discharge level) decreased over the summer whereas discharge-specific concentrations of NO3 − and silicate increased. Soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) and ammonium (NH4 +) were negatively correlated with discharge during the spring thaw, but were less predictable with respect to discharge thereafter. These data provide valuable information on how Arctic watershed biogeochemistry will be affected by future changes in temperature, snowfall, and rainfall in the Arctic. In particular, our results add to a growing body of research showing that nutrient export per unit of stream discharge, particularly NO3 −, is increasing in the Arctic.