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Mechanisms, pathways and patchiness of the Arctic ecosystem responses and adaptation to changing climate (ClimEco, 2018–2020)

Scope: is to principally improve modern knowledge of mechanisms, feedbacks and pathways of the Arctic ecosystems response and their adaptation to the Arctic warming and, thus, to advance scientific background and tools for projecting current and future changes in Arctic ecosystems and microclimates. Such projections will be done for selected sites in Subarctic Finland and North-West Siberia, where the main drivers for ecosystem change and adaptation are the Arctic warming and land-use/cover disturbances caused by human activities.

Methodology includes:

  • Satellite remote sensing products - to locate disturbance patterns and related persistent surface temperature anomalies and ecosystem properties (plant functional types, species abundance, coverage, leaf area index) at regional scale;
  • In-situ data and new observations on microclimate, ecosystem structure and functions (productivity)/ experiments - to refine the links between properties of ecosystems and microclimates and to allow pairwise comparisons between disturbed-undisturbed and micro-climatically different sites;
  • Downscaling from global climate changes to microclimates via advanced planetary boundary (PBL) layer models, and further from microclimate to ecosystem via advanced heat/mass transfer models, accounting for microscale (stomatal level) physical processes;
  • Seamless modelling to clarify the nature of anomalies and their effects on essential climate variables.

Specific objectives:

  • To integrate historical and newly obtained in-situ and remote-sensing data for demonstrating and quantifying parallel ongoing changes in climate and ecosystems over the territories addressed in the project: Northern Finland and North-Western Siberia (WP1)
  • To identify and specify by field observations and experiments in different ecosystems (mires, shrublands tundra and forest, permafrost and non-permafrost) concrete responses of Arctic ecosystems to climate warming and land-use disturbances at small scales (WP2)
  • To advance conventional concept and methods of calculation of Arctic PBLs and heat/moisture exchange between the atmosphere and selected Arctic ecosystems, towards better understanding and forecasting of local Arctic climate-biosphere systems (WP3)


is that instantaneous transitions from one microclimate-ecosystem equilibrium to another are based on the feedback between partitioning of the surface energy budget among turbulent fluxes of sensible and latent heat, on the one hand, and changes in structure and functioning of ecosystems, on the other hand. In particular, we will quantify how anthropogenic and natural degradation of the present Arctic vegetation cover and alternative succession of communities responds to the reduced latent heat flux causing higher surface air temperature, better near-surface ventilation, and deeper active soil layer.

Research questions:

Q1: How heterogeneity of the surface temperature and moisture affects the ecosystem composition and productivity at regional (105 m), PBL/microclimate (103 m) and local (101 m) scales? Which specific ecosystem changes develop within patches of warm microclimate in tundra and forest-tundra ecotones? How are ecosystems and microclimates co-evolving? (WP1)

Q2: Which functional-structural properties and physiological processes support adaptations and alternative successions in warmer or degraded environments? How alternative ecosystems modify their physical environment? (WP2)

Q3: How turbulent mixing in PBL and heat/mass transfer processes at the atmosphere-ecosystem boundary interplay with the surface energy and matter exchange, surface temperature, and surface humidity? How the properties and replacement of ecosystems are linked to partitioning of turbulent fluxes? (WP3)

WorkPackages (WP):

WP1: How ecosystems affect climate in the Arctic

WP2: How climate affects ecosystems in the Arctic

WP3: Conceptual model of Arctic climate-ecosystem interactions via PBL dynamics

WP4: Coordination, research training and dissemination

Project leaders & contact information:

  • Prof. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (INAR, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland)
  • Prof. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland)

PI of Russian partner: 

  • Prof. Vladimir Melnikov (University of Tyumen, Tyumen, Russia)

More detailed information (state-of-the art; links to projects; research objectives and expected results; research methods, workpackages, tasks, and material, support from research environment; schedule and distribution of work; research team and collaborative partners; research training and mobility plan) is available in the ClimEco Research Plan.

Project partners:

  • University of Helsinki (UHEL, Finland)
  • University of Tumen (UT, Russia)
  • External collaborators: WMO, IIASA, PEEX, ILTER, GEO-GEOSS, AARI, ICOS ERIC, eLTER, AnaEE, NERSC, Max-Planck Institute, Obukhov Institute of Atmospheric Physics RAS, Universities of Copenhagen and Delft;  most important national collaboration in Finland is the Center of Excellence with  more than 250 climate and ecosystem scientists.


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