Temperature, heat flux, and reflectance of common subarctic mosses and lichens under field conditions: Might changes to community composition impact climate-relevant surface fluxes?

Paul Stoy, Lorna Street, Aiden Johnson, Ana Prieto-Blanco, Stephanie Ewing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Bryophytes and lichens are ubiquitous in subarctic ecosystems, but their roles in controlling energy fluxes are rarely studied at the species level despite large, recent observed shifts in subarctic vegetation. We quantified the surface and subsurface temperatures and spectral reflectance of common moss and lichen species at field sites in Alaska and Sweden. We also used MODIS observations to determine if the removal of Cladonia spp. by reindeer overgrazing impacts land surface albedo and temperature. Radiometric surface temperature of a feather moss (Pleurozium schreberi) exceeded 50 °C on occasion when dry, up to 20 °C higher than co-located Sphagnum fuscum or C. rangiferina. Spectral reflectance of S. fuscum was on average higher than Polytrichum piliferum across the 350-1400 nm range, with substantial within-species variability. MODIS albedo was significantly higher on the Norwegian (relatively undisturbed) side versus the Finnish (disturbed) side of a border reindeer fence by an average of 1% during periods without snow cover. MODIS nighttime land surface temperatures were often significantly higher on the Norwegian side of the fence by an average of 0.7 °C despite higher albedo, likely due to poor conductance of heat to the subsurface as observed in C. rangiferina in the field. Changes to bryophyte and lichen community composition alter the surface energy balance, and future work must determine how to best incorporate these effects into Earth system models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)500-508
Number of pages9
JournalArctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research
Volume44
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012

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