Project

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Understanding the isotope signal of trees growing on continuous permafrost in northern Siberia

Applicant Saurer Matthias
Number 134864
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Labor für Atmosphärenchemie Paul Scherrer Institut
Institution of higher education Paul Scherrer Institute - PSI
Main discipline Climatology. Atmospherical Chemistry, Aeronomy
Start/End 01.08.2011 - 31.01.2014
Approved amount 212'773.00
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All Disciplines (3)

Discipline
Climatology. Atmospherical Chemistry, Aeronomy
Geochemistry
Environmental Research

Keywords (6)

climate change; stable isotopes; tree rings; tree physiology; Boreal forests; permafrost

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary

The main goal of the project is to improve the use of carbon and oxygen isotope ratios in tree-rings as a tool to detect the response of Siberian larch forests on permafrost to the recent climate change. The goal will be achieved by a detailed analysis of the incorporation and fractionation of isotopes in a Siberian forest ecosystem (64°N, 100°E) on a seasonal scale, at an approximately weekly time resolution during the vegetation period. A new approach involving compound-specific isotope analysis of different plant components will be applied to enhance the understanding of post-photosynthetic fractionation and carbon allocation processes. These results will be used to calibrate isotope fractionation transfer models along the leaf and stem. Oxygen isotope values of water samples extracted from soil, leaves and branches will be the basis for a better understanding of the water-use of trees, with a focus on time-lags caused by storage and release of permafrost water. Earlywood and latewood isotope chronologies covering the last 100 years on sites contrasting in permafrost depth will enable the application of the results on longer timescales. This will reveal if the thawing of permafrost and the deteriorating summer drought conditions are the key factors influencing forest growth. The results will be compared to studies conducted in the Alpine region in the Lötschental, where tree growth is also temperature-limited, but where the soil conditions (without permafrost) are very different.

Siberian larch forests in the continuous permafrost region are sensitive ecosystems and have been especially exposed to the global warming of the recent decades. These forests are vulnerable, as the vegetation period is short, and water and nutrient availabilities are low. Our previous research on Siberian sites indicated a complex interplay of environmental factors, isotope ratios and tree growth. The t and provoke a risk of an additional radiative forcing of the climate system. 2 century were detected. The permafrost in this region has an important role as a direct water source during summer drought due to extremely low precipitation. Increasing temperatures in the future will enhance the leaf-to-air vapour pressure difference, thus the evaporative demand and water loss of the plants, which may reduce productivity and carbon sequestration of these forests. Furthermore, higher decomposition rates in the uppermost part of soils and accessibility of carbon currently stored in permafrost to microbial degradation could release COthemperature signal in the isotope chronologies was lower than expected, but indications for an increasing drought situation in the 20

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Name Institute

Publications

Publication
Examining the response of needle carbohydrates from Siberian larch trees to climate using compound-specific C-13 and concentration analyses
Rinne Katja, Saurer M., Kirdyanov Alexander, Bryukhanova Marina, Prokushkin Anatoly, Churakova Olga, Siegwolf Rolf (2015), Examining the response of needle carbohydrates from Siberian larch trees to climate using compound-specific C-13 and concentration analyses, in Plant, Cell & Environment, 38(11), 2340-2352.
The relationship between needle sugar carbon isotope ratios and tree rings of larch in Siberia
Rinne Katja, Saurer Matthias, Kirdyanov Alexander, Loader Neil, Bryukhanova Marina, Werner Roland, Siegwolf R. (2015), The relationship between needle sugar carbon isotope ratios and tree rings of larch in Siberia, in Tree Physiology, 35(11), 1192-1205.
A novel methodological approach for d18O analysis of sugars using gas chromatography-pyrolysis-isotope ratio mass spectrometry
Zech M., Saurer M., Tuthorn M., Rinne K.T., Werner R.A., Siegwolf R.T.W., Glaser B., Juchelka D. (2013), A novel methodological approach for d18O analysis of sugars using gas chromatography-pyrolysis-isotope ratio mass spectrometry, in Isotopes in Environmental and Health Studies, 49(4), 492-502.
Evaluation of a liquid chromatography method for compound-specific d13C analysis of plant carbohydrates in alkaline media
Rinne K.T., Saurer M., Streit K., Siegwolf R.T.W. (2012), Evaluation of a liquid chromatography method for compound-specific d13C analysis of plant carbohydrates in alkaline media, in Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 26(18), 2173-2185.
The influence of atmospheric circulation patterns on the oxygen isotope ratio of tree-rings in the Alpine region
Saurer M., Kress A., Leuenberger, M., Rinne K.T., Treydte K.S., Siegwolf R.T.W. (2012), The influence of atmospheric circulation patterns on the oxygen isotope ratio of tree-rings in the Alpine region, in Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, 117(D05118), 0.
Swiss tree-rings reveal warm and wet summers during medieval times
Kress A., Hangartner S., Bugmann H., Büntgen U., Frank D.C:, Leuenberger M., Siegwolf R.T.W., Saurer M., Swiss tree-rings reveal warm and wet summers during medieval times, in Geophysical Research Letters.

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Isotopes of Carbon, Water, and Geotracers in Paleoclimate Research Talk given at a conference Tree responses in a changing environment – identifying physiological mechanisms using tree ring width and stable C and O isotopes 26.08.2013 Bern, Switzerland Saurer Matthias;
JESIUM 2012: Joint European Stable Isotope Users group Meeting Talk given at a conference Evaluation of a Liquid Chromatography Method for Compound-Specific δ13C Analysis of Plant Carbohydrates under Alkaline Media 02.09.2012 Leipzig, Germany Rinne Katja; Saurer Matthias;
Trace 2012: Tree Rings in Archaeology, Climatology and Ecology Talk given at a conference Climate change and tree physiological response of Siberian larch forests – Investigations with stable carbon and oxygen isotopes 09.05.2012 Potsdam, Germany Rinne Katja; Saurer Matthias;


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
130112 Isotope pathway from atmosphere to the tree ring along a humidity gradient in Switzerland 01.09.2010 Project funding (Div. I-III)
128035 Tree growth and forest ecosystem functioning in Eurasia under changing climate 01.11.2009 SCOPES
150003 Compound-specific oxygen isotope analysis of carbohydrates as a novel tool in ecophysiology and climate research 01.08.2014 Project funding (Div. I-III)
121838 Climate change and tree physiological response in Siberia and in the Alps during warm and cold periods of the last 1500 years 01.02.2009 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

Siberian larch (Larix) forests in the continuous permafrost region are sensitive ecosystems and have been especially exposed to the global warming of the recent decades. These forests are vulnerable, as the vegetation period is short, and water and nutrient availabilities are low. Within the project „Climate change and tree physiological response in Siberia and in the Alps during warm and cold periods of the last 1500 years“, we developed carbon and oxygen isotope chronologies (d13C and d18O), which cover exceptionally warm and cold periods of the last two millennia. The results from the Siberian sites indicated a complex interplay of environmental factors, isotope ratios and tree growth. The temperature signal in the isotope chronologies was lower than expected, but indications for an increasing drought situation in the 20th century were detected. The permafrost in this region has an important role as a direct water source during summer drought due to extremely low precipitation. Increasing temperatures in the future will enhance the leaf-to-air vapour pressure difference, thus the evaporative demand and water loss of the plants, which may reduce productivity and carbon sequestration of these forests. Furthermore, higher decomposition rates in the uppermost part of soils and accessibility of carbon currently stored in permafrost to microbial degradation could release CO2 and provoke a risk of an additional radiative forcing of the climate system.The main goal of this project is to improve the use of carbon and oxygen isotope ratios in tree-rings as a tool to detect the response of Siberian larch forests on permafrost to the recent climate change. The goal will be achieved by a detailed analysis of the incorporation and fractionation of isotopes in a Siberian forest ecosystem (64°N, 100°E) on a seasonal scale, at an approximately weekly time resolution during the vegetation period. A new approach involving compound-specific isotope analysis of different plant components will be applied to enhance the understanding of post-photosynthetic fractionation and carbon allocation processes. These results will be used to calibrate isotope fractionation transfer models along the leaf and stem. Oxygen isotope values of water samples extracted from soil, leaves and branches will be the basis for a better understanding of the water-use of trees, with a focus on time-lags caused by storage and release of permafrost water. Earlywood and latewood isotope chronologies covering the last 100 years on sites contrasting in permafrost depth will enable the application of the results on longer timescales. This will reveal if the thawing of permafrost and the deteriorating summer drought conditions are the key factors influencing forest growth.The project will be carried out in close cooperation with the V.N.Sukachev Institute of Forest, Krasnoyarsk (Russia), which provides a unique opportunity to access valuable samples from an area difficult to reach. With the new methodology we will retrieve the full information contained in these samples. The results will be compared to studies conducted in the Alpine region in the Lötschental, where tree growth is also temperature-limited, but where the soil conditions (without permafrost) are very different.
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