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Larch (Larix dahurica Turcz) growth response to climate change in the Siberian permafrost zone

Kharuk, Viacheslav I., Ranson, Kenneth J., Petrov, Il’ya A., Dvinskaya, Maria L., Im, Sergei T., Golyukov, Alexei S.
Regional environmental change 2019 v.19 no.1 pp. 233-243
Abies sibirica, Larix gmelinii var. gmelinii, Larix sibirica, Pinus sibirica, air temperature, climatic factors, dendrochronology, drought, forests, global warming, latitude, permafrost, primary productivity, rhizosphere, soil water, summer, trees, vapor pressure deficit, vegetative growth, water content, water holding capacity, water stress, Eurasia, Siberia
Larch-dominant communities are the most extensive high-latitude forests in Eurasia and are experiencing the strongest impacts from warming temperatures. We analyzed larch (Larix dahurica Turcz) growth index (GI) response to climate change. The studied larch-dominant communities are located within the permafrost zone of Northern Siberia at the northern tree limit (ca. N 67° 38′, E 99° 07′). Methods included dendrochronology, analysis of climate variables, root zone moisture content, and satellite-derived gross (GPP) and net (NPP) primary productivity. It was found that larch response to warming included a period of increased annual growth increment (GI) (from the 1970s to ca. 1995) with a follow on GI decline. Increase in GI correlated with summer air temperature, whereas an observed decrease in GI was caused by water stress (vapor pressure deficit and drought increase). Water stress impact on larch growth in permafrost was not observed before the onset of warming (ca. 1970). Water limitation was also indicated by GI dependence on soil moisture stored during the previous year. Water stress was especially pronounced for stands growing on rocky soils with low water-holding capacity. GPP of larch communities showed an increasing trend, whereas NPP stagnated. A similar pattern of GI response to climate warming has also been observed for Larix sibirica Ledeb, Pinus sibirica Du Tour, and Abies sibirica Ledeb in the forests of southern Siberia. Thus, warming in northern Siberia permafrost zone resulted in an initial increase in larch growth from the 1970s to the mid-1990s. After that time, larch growth increment has decreased. Since ca. 1990, water stress at the beginning of the vegetative period became, along with air temperature, a main factor affecting larch growth within the permafrost zone.