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Expanding Spatial and Temporal Coverage of Arctic CH4 and CO2 Fluxes

Expanding Spatial and Temporal Coverage of Arctic CH4 and CO2 Fluxes

AGU Fall Meeting 2013
Presented at American Geophysical Union, 9-13th of December,2013, San Francisco, California.
Authors: Patrick Murphy, Walter Oechel, Virginie Moreaux, Salvatore Losacco, Donatella Zona.

Carbon storage and exchange in Arctic ecosystems is the subject of intensive study focused on determining rates, controls, and mechanisms of CO2 and CH4 fluxes. The Arctic contains more than 1 Gt of Carbon in the upper meter of soil, both in the active layer and permafrost (Schuur et al., 2008; Tarnocai et al., 2009). However, the annual pattern and controls on the release of CH4 is inadequately understood in Arctic tundra ecosystems. Annual methane budgets are poorly understood, and very few studies measure fluxes through the freeze-up cycle during autumn months (Mastepanov et al., 2008; Mastepanov et al., 2010; Sturtevant et al., 2012). There is no known, relatively continuous, CH4 flux record for the Arctic. Clearly, the datasets that currently exist for budget calculations and model parameterization and verification are inadequate. This is likely due to the difficult nature of flux measurements in the Arctic.

In September 2012, we initiated a research project towards continuous methane flux measurements along a latitudinal transect in Northern Alaska. The eddy-covariance (EC) technique is challenging in such extreme weather conditions due to the effects of ice formation and precipitation on instrumentation, including gas analyzers and sonic anemometers. The challenge is greater in remote areas of the Arctic, when low power availability and limited communication can lead to delays in data retrieval or data loss. For these reasons, a combination of open- and closed-path gas analyzers, and several sonic anemometers (including one with heating), have been installed on EC towers to allow for cross-comparison and cross-referencing of calculated fluxes. Newer instruments for fast CH4 flux determination include: the Los Gatos Research Fast Greenhouse Gas Analyzer and the Li-Cor LI-7700. We also included the self-heated Metek Class-A uSonic-3 Anemometer as a new instrument. Previously existing instruments used for comparison include the Li-Cor LI-7500; Li-Cor LI-7200; Gill WindmasterPro; Gill R3; Campbell Scientific CSAT-3, and METEK USA-1. To prevent gaps in data due to poor weather, we developed a temperature control system to allow de-icing of the sonic instrument based on data quality. Enclosures were also created to support equipment that was not designed for outdoor use. A similar temperature control system was implemented to maintain stable conditions in the enclosures.

AGU Fall Meeting 2013Five existing EC towers on the north slope of Alaska, in Barrow, Atqasuk, and Ivotuk, are used to obtain CH4 and CO2 fluxes, and allow a comparison of fluxes across sensor type and design. Here we present the instrument set-up and some of the preliminary eddy covariance CH4 and CO2 flux data, which might prove very useful as guidelines for further flux measurements in northern high latitudes.

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