Impact of tundra ecosystems on the surface energy budget and climate of Alaska


  • Amanda H. Lynch,

  • Gordon B. Bonan,

  • F. S. Chapin III,

  • W. Wu


The sensitivity of regional terrestrial climate to the characteristics of tundra ecosystems has been investigated by a series of sensitivity experiments concentrating on the summer of 1995. Validation of the NCAR Land Surface Model and the Arctic Regional Climate System Model for this season indicate their adequacy for this study. Comparisons of the simulated climate in response to a wet meadow tundra or a dry heath tundra results in an expected cooling and moistening of both the local area and the adjoining sea ice and forested regions. The impact of atmospheric cloud-radiation feedbacks is to reduce the cooling as the summer progresses, although moistening continues, associated with increased precipitation in some areas. The spatial variability of the response is dependent upon prevailing synoptic conditions, which act to enhance moisture advection in certain areas. This study indicates that vegetation variation within the Arctic has substantial climatic effects that extend beyond the Arctic. In addition, the perturbations in the summer season could have profound implications of Arctic wintertime climate and issues of snow-albedo feedback and spring melt.