29 Oct 2021
29 Oct 2021
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Pameterization of the responses of subarctic European vegetation to key environmental variables for ozone risk assessment

Stefanie Falk1,4, Ane V. Vollsnes2, Aud B. Eriksen2, Lisa Emberson3, Connie O'Neill3, Frode Stordal1, and Terje Koren Berntsen1 Stefanie Falk et al.
  • 1Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  • 2Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  • 3Department of Environment and Geography, University of York, UK
  • 4Department of Geography, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Munich, Germany

Abstract. The unique vegetation of the subarctic region acclimatized to extremes of cold and midnight sun are likely to be at threat from the combined impacts of climate change and increasing ozone concentrations [O3]. The atmospheric and climatic characteristics of the subarctic are known to lead to pronounced peak [O3] in spring. To date, only a few studies assessed the response of subarctic vegetation to variations in climate and air pollution. This study looks to fill this knowledge gap by examining essential climate variables, in particular ozone, over the past few decades. We evaluate the extent to which two recent years (2018 and 2019) deviate from climatic and [O3] norms and how these potentially more frequent future deviations may influence ozone damage to subarctic vegetation. We find that 2018 was an anomalously warm and bright year, particularly in spring and early summer. Higher than average [O3] was observed in April/May while frequent episodes of ozone volume mixing ratios (VMRs) above 40 ppb occurred in June–August. These episodes are in part attributable to forest fires in the Northern Hemisphere and warmer and sunnier conditions. We apply the integrated flux-metric Phytotoxic Ozone Dose (POD) to determine ozone risk and damage to vegetation as a function of [O3], environmental factors, and species-specific physiology. Our study suggests that using generic parameterizations in assessments likely leads to underestimating the risk of ozone damage in this region. We find that bespoke parameterizations of plant functional types (PFTs) for subarctic vegetation bio-types result in an ozone-induced biomass loss of 2.5 to 17.4 %. For some species, this loss is up to 6 % larger than projected from generic parameterizations. Efforts should be targeted towards accurately defining subarctic vegetations' physiological response to essential climate variables. Our method could help to improve regional and global scale biogeochemical cycling under current and future climates.

Stefanie Falk et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on bg-2021-260', Anonymous Referee #1, 05 Nov 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC1', Stefanie Falk, 13 Jan 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on bg-2021-260', Anonymous Referee #2, 23 Nov 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC2', Stefanie Falk, 29 Nov 2021
  • RC3: 'Comment on bg-2021-260', Anonymous Referee #3, 30 Nov 2021
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Stefanie Falk, 13 Jan 2022

Stefanie Falk et al.

Stefanie Falk et al.


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Short summary
Subarctic vegetation is threatened by climate change and ozone. We assess essential climate variables in 2018/19. 2018 was warmer and brighter than usual in Spring with forest fires and elevated ozone in summer. Visible damage was observed on plant species in 2018. We find that generic parameterizations used in modeling ozone dose do not suffice. We propose a method to acclimate these parameterizations and find an ozone-induced biomass loss of 2.5 to 17.4 % (up to 6 % larger than default).