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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  20 Nov 2020

20 Nov 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Recent above-ground biomass changes in central Chukotka (Russian Far East) using field sampling and Landsat satellite data

Iuliia Shevtsova1,2, Ulrike Herzschuh1,2,3, Birgit Heim1, Luise Schulte1,2, Simone Stünzi1,6, Luidmila A. Pestryakova4, Evgeniy S. Zakharov4,5, and Stefan Kruse1 Iuliia Shevtsova et al.
  • 1Polar Terrestrial Environmental Systems, Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam, 14473, Germany
  • 2Institute of Biochemistry and Biology, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, 14476, Germany
  • 3Institute of Environmental Sciences and Geography, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, 14476, Germany
  • 4Institute of Natural Sciences, North-Eastern Federal University of Yakutsk, Yakutsk, 677000, Russia
  • 5Institute for Biological Problems of the Cryolithozone, Russian Academy of Sciences, Siberian branch, Yakutsk, 677000, Russia
  • 6Geography Department, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, 10099, Berlin, Germany

Abstract. Upscaling plant biomass distribution and dynamics is essential for estimating carbon stocks and carbon balance. In this respect, the Russian Far East is among the least investigated subarctic regions despite its known vegetation sensitivity to ongoing warming. We representatively harvested above-ground biomass (AGB, separated by dominant taxa) at 40 sampling plots in central Chukotka. We used ordination to relate field-based taxa projective cover and Landsat-derived vegetation indices. A general additive model was used to link the ordination scores to AGB. We then mapped AGB for paired Landsat-derived time-slices (i.e. 2000/2001/2002 and 2016/2017), in four study regions covering a wide vegetation gradient from closed-canopy larch forests to barren alpine tundra. We provide AGB estimates and changes in AGB that were previously lacking for central Chukotka at a high spatial resolution and a detailed description of taxonomical contributions. Generally, AGB in the study region ranges from 0 to 16 kg m−2, with Cajander larch providing the highest contribution. Comparison of changes in AGB within the investigated period shows that the greatest changes (up to 1.25 kg m−2 yr−1) occurred in the northern taiga and in areas where land cover changed to larch closed-canopy forest. As well as the notable changes, increases in AGB also occur within the land cover classes. Our estimations indicate a general increase in total AGB throughout the investigated tundra-taiga and northern taiga, whereas the tundra showed no evidence of change in AGB.

Iuliia Shevtsova et al.

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Iuliia Shevtsova et al.

Iuliia Shevtsova et al.


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Short summary
In the light of climate changes of subarctic regions, notable general increase in above-ground biomass for the past 15 years (2000 to 2017) was estimated along a tundra-taiga gradient of central Chukotka (Russian Far East). The greatest increase occurred in the northern taiga in the areas of larch closed-canopy forest expansion with Cajander larch as a main contributor. For the estimations, we used field data (taxa-separated plant biomass, 2018) and upscaled it based on Landsat satellite data.
In the light of climate changes of subarctic regions, notable general increase in above-ground...