Many outlet glaciers in Greenland feed ice from the land into fjords, where discharge of icebergs and melting of the glaciers by warmer ocean waters contribute to rising sea levels. Researcher David Holland is studying what happens in the fjord when ice meets water--how the dynamics at the margin between ice and sea are changing, and what those changes could mean in the future for global sea level rise. See more in this Science Nation video.
Credit: Science Nation, National Science Foundation
Diana Wall of Colorado State University and her colleagues are using modern DNA-based methods to discover the extent of the biodiversity under our feet. Soil, it turns out, provides habitat for millions of species. Read more in this discovery.
Credit: Johnson Nkem, Colorado State University
A study by a University of Florida ecologist has helped define the potentially significant contribution of permafrost thaw to atmospheric concentrations of carbon, which have already reached unprecedented levels. A large amount of organic carbon in the tundra is stored in the soil and permafrost. This pool of carbon, deposited over thousands of years, remained locked in the perennially frozen ground--until recent years. Learn more in this video news release and audio slide show.
Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation
The Division of Polar Programs of the Directorate for Geosciences manages and initiates NSF funding for basic research and its operational support in the Arctic and the Antarctic. The funds are provided as NSF grants to institutions (mainly U.S. universities), whose scientists perform the research at the institutions or in a polar region, and as cooperative agreements or contracts to support organizations including contractors and the U.S. military.
In April 2013, scientists revealed new models projecting that wooded areas in the Arctic could increase by as much as 50 percent over the coming decades. The researchers also showed that this dramatic greening will accelerate climate warming at a rate greater than previously expected.
The International North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling (NEEM) project results indicate that melting of the massive West Antarctic ice sheet may have contributed more to sea-level rise than melting of the Greenland ice sheet some 100,000 years ago.
Evergreen trees at the edge of Alaska's tundra are growing faster, suggesting that at least some forests may be adapting to a rapidly warming climate, according to a 2011 study.
September 30, 2013
Changes in Greenland landscape affect carbon balance sheet
Warming is altering Greenland's tundra, affecting carbon dynamics
Warming temperatures in the Arctic are changing the tundra from a landscape dominated by grasses to one increasingly dominated by woody shrubs. In addition to affecting the habitat of local wildlife such as caribou and musk oxen, these changes are also altering the carbon exchange between the plants and the atmosphere.
A better understanding of these changes and interactions may help to refine scientific predictions of how the Arctic will respond to future climate change.
This project comprises a four-year, passive warming experiment of low-Arctic tundra vegetation at a long-term study site in Greenland, whose primary aim is to measure the response of plant roots to warming and the role of this response in ecosystem carbon exchange.
Phenology, the study of the annual timing and progression of events such as above-ground plant growth, is an important component of the ecology of climate change and has been widely studied, but below-ground ecology remains largely unexplored.
This study will estimate and compare above- and below-ground responses of plant phenology to warming and their respective contributions to ecosystem function, specifically the exchange of carbon between the atmosphere and tundra. The study also hopes to determine which plant types-- shrubs or grasses--show a greater below-ground response to warming and contribution to ecosystem carbon exchange.
The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #1107381, Collaborative Research: Linking below-ground phenology and ecosystem function in a warming Arctic.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.