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Spatial variation in regional CO2 exchange for the Kuparuk River Basin, Alaska over the summer growing season


G. L. Vourlitis, Biological Sciences Department, California State University, San Marcos, CA 92096-0001, USA, tel.+760 750 4119, fax +760 750 3440, e-mail:


The spatial and temporal patterns in CO2 flux for the Kuparuk River Basin, a 9200-km2 watershed located in NE Alaska were estimated using the Regional Arctic CO2 Exchange Simulator (RACES) for the 1994–1995 growing seasons. RACES uses non-linear models and a Geographical Information System database (GIS) consisting of the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and dynamic temperature and radiation maps. The spatial and temporal patterns in the NDVI during both growing seasons suggest that ecosystem development occurred 2–4 weeks earlier and was relatively more rapid in the southern portion of the Kuparuk River Basin. Rates of gross primary production (GPP) and whole-ecosystem respiration (R) were 2–4 fold higher in the southern basin than along the arctic coastal plain depending on time of year. The higher rate of GPP estimated for the southern basin was primarily due to higher NDVI values, while the higher R estimated for the southern basin was due in part to higher temperature and the NDVI. While GPP and R showed strong latitudinal trends, spatial and temporal trends in net ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE) were much more variable. Thus, while spatial trends in carbon gain (GPP) and loss (R) were highly correlated, small spatial and temporal differences in these large fluxes (GPP and/or R) lead to corresponding large spatial variations in the NEE.