Landscape Interactions

The arctic ecological system includes the interactions among land, freshwaters, and the atmosphere. The dominant forms of interaction between ecosystems are the flux of materials and the flux of energy through climate forcing. For example, carbon moves from land to water and from water to the atmosphere, while the land and atmosphere exchange carbon in both directions.

It appears that the land-atmosphere connection is governed by soil moisture, landscape age and geological substrate, and vegetation. Differences in parent material and soil age result in landscapes with varying soil pH and vegetation composition, identified in the Arctic as acidic, nonacidic, and shrub tundra. The acidic and nonacidic landscapes appear to have very different energy and carbon fluxes, and we know little about the shrub tundra. The land-water connection appears to be governed by belowground processes such as decomposition and the production rates of dissolved carbon species, quality of the carbon produced, and soil water movement as driven by hydrological processes. Finally, the water-atmosphere connection is driven by the spatial extent of water, carbon loading from land, and by the meteorological forcing of precipitation, net radiation, and wind.