Sue Natali

Sue Natali
Woodwell Climate Research Center | WHRC

PhD

About

103
Publications
47,070
Reads
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6,306
Citations
Additional affiliations
October 2015 - present
Woodwell Climate Research Center
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
October 2012 - October 2015
Woodwell Climate Research Center
Position
  • Research Assistant

Publications

Publications (103)
Article
Full-text available
As permafrost degrades, the amount of organic soil carbon (C) that thaws during the growing season will increase, but decomposition may be limited by saturated soil conditions common in high latitude ecosystems. However, in some areas, soil drying is expected to accompany permafrost thaw as a result of increased water drainage, which may enhance C...
Article
Full-text available
Large quantities of organic carbon are stored in frozen soils (permafrost) within Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. A warming climate can induce environmental changes that accelerate the microbial breakdown of organic carbon and the release of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane. This feedback can accelerate climate change, but the magnitu...
Article
Full-text available
A large pool of organic carbon (C) has been accumulating in the Arctic for thousands of years because cold and waterlogged conditions have protected soil organic material from microbial decomposition. As the climate warms this vast and frozen C pool is at risk of being thawed, decomposed, and released to the atmosphere as greenhouse gasses. At the...
Article
Permafrost thaw can alter the soil environment through changes in soil moisture, frequently resulting in soil saturation, a shift to anaerobic decomposition, and changes in the plant community. These changes, along with thawing of previously frozen organic material, can alter the form and magnitude of greenhouse gas production from permafrost ecosy...
Article
Full-text available
The carbon (C) storage capacity of northern latitude ecosystems may diminish as warming air temperatures increase permafrost thaw and stimulate decomposition of previously frozen soil organic C. However, warming may also enhance plant growth so that photosynthetic carbon dioxide (CO2) uptake may, in part, offset respiratory losses. To determine the...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change is causing an intensification in tundra fires across the Arctic, including the unprecedented 2015 fires in the Yukon‐Kuskokwim (YK) Delta. The YK Delta contains extensive surface waters (∼33% cover) and significant quantities of organic carbon, much of which is stored in vulnerable permafrost. Inland aquatic ecosystems act as hot‐spo...
Article
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Foundation species have disproportionately large impacts on ecosystem structure and function. As a result, future changes to their distribution may be important determinants of ecosystem carbon (C) cycling in a warmer world. We assessed the role of a foundation tussock sedge ( Eriophorum vaginatum ) as a climatically vulnerable C stock using field...
Article
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The northern permafrost region holds almost half of the world's soil carbon in just 15% of global terrestrial surface area. Between 2007 and 2016, permafrost warmed by an average of 0.29°C, with observations indicating that frozen ground in the more southerly, discontinuous permafrost zone is already thawing. Despite this, our understanding of pote...
Article
Past efforts to synthesize and quantify the magnitude and change in carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems across the rapidly warming Arctic–boreal zone (ABZ) have provided valuable information but were limited in their geographical and temporal coverage. Furthermore, these efforts have been based on data aggregated over varying time...
Article
Full-text available
Methane emissions from boreal and arctic wetlands, lakes, and rivers are expected to increase in response to warming and associated permafrost thaw. However, the lack of appropriate land cover datasets for scaling field-measured methane emissions to circumpolar scales has contributed to a large uncertainty for our understanding of present-day and f...
Article
Full-text available
Rapid Arctic warming is causing permafrost to thaw and exposing large quantities of soil organic carbon (C) to potential decomposition. In dry upland tundra systems, subsidence from thawing permafrost can increase surface soil moisture resulting in higher methane (CH4) emissions from newly waterlogged soils. The proportion of C released as carbon d...
Article
The Polaris Project, a National Science Foundation–funded program at the Woodwell Climate Research Center, aims to comprehensively address minority participation in climate and Arctic science research. Critical participant outcomes included development of interdisciplinary research projects, involvement in self-efficacy and advocacy experiences, an...
Article
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Carbon cycle perturbations in high-latitude ecosystems associated with rapid warming can have implications for the global climate. Belowground biomass is an important component of the carbon cycle in these ecosystems, with, on average, significantly more vegetation biomass belowground than aboveground. Large quantities of dead root biomass are also...
Article
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Soil respiration (i.e. from soils and roots) provides one of the largest global fluxes of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere and is likely to increase with warming, yet the magnitude of soil respiration from rapidly thawing Arctic-boreal regions is not well understood. To address this knowledge gap, we first compiled a new CO2 flux database for...
Preprint
Full-text available
Past efforts to synthesize and quantify the magnitude and change in carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems across the rapidly warming Arctic-Boreal Zone (ABZ) have provided valuable information, but were limited in their geographical and temporal coverage. Furthermore, these efforts have been based on data aggregated over varying tim...
Article
Full-text available
Rapid Arctic warming has intensified northern wildfires and is thawing carbon-rich permafrost. Carbon emissions from permafrost thaw and Arctic wildfires, which are not fully accounted for in global emissions budgets, will greatly reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that humans can emit to remain below 1.5 °C or 2 °C. The Paris Agreement provides...
Article
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Observations of changes in phenology have provided some of the strongest signals of the effects of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems. The International Tundra Experiment (ITEX), initiated in the early 1990s, established a common protocol to measure plant phenology in tundra study areas across the globe. Today, this valuable collection of phe...
Preprint
Full-text available
Methane emissions from boreal and arctic wetlands, lakes, and rivers are expected to increase in response to warming and associated permafrost thaw. However, the lack of appropriate land cover datasets for scaling field-measured methane emissions to circumpolar scales has contributed to a large uncertainty for our understanding of present-day and f...
Article
The regional variability in tundra and boreal carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes can be high, complicating efforts to quantify sink‐source patterns across the entire region. Statistical models are increasingly used to predict (i.e., upscale) CO2 fluxes across large spatial domains, but the reliability of different modeling techniques, each with different...
Article
Cajander larch ( Larix cajanderi Mayr.) forests of the Siberian Arctic are experiencing increased wildfire activity in conjunction with climate warming. These shifts could affect post-fire variation in the density and arrangement of trees and understory plant communities. To better understand how understory plant composition, abundance, and diversi...
Article
Full-text available
Soils are warming as air temperatures rise across the Arctic and Boreal region concurrent with the expansion of tall-statured shrubs and trees in the tundra. Changes in vegetation structure and function are expected to alter soil thermal regimes, thereby modifying climate feedbacks related to permafrost thaw and carbon cycling. However, current und...
Article
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Rapid climate warming at northern high latitudes is driving geomorphic changes across the permafrost zone. In the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas in western Siberia, subterranean accumulation of methane beneath or within ice-rich permafrost can create mounds at the land surface. Once over-pressurized by methane, these mounds can explode and eject frozen...
Article
Full-text available
Soils are warming as air temperatures rise across the Arctic and Boreal region concurrent with the expansion of tall-statured shrubs and trees in the tundra. Changes in vegetation structure and function are expected to alter soil thermal regimes, thereby modifying climate feedbacks related to permafrost thaw and carbon cycling. However, current und...
Article
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The contribution of soil heterotrophic respiration to the boreal–Arctic carbon (CO2) cycle and its potential feedback to climate change remains poorly quantified. We developed a remote-sensing-driven permafrost carbon model at intermediate scale (∼1 km) to investigate how environmental factors affect the magnitude and seasonality of soil heterotrop...
Article
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The magnitude of future emissions of greenhouse gases from the northern permafrost region depend crucially on the mineralization of soil organic carbon (SOC) that has accumulated over millennia in these perennially frozen soils. Many recent studies have used radiocarbon (14C) to quantify the release of this “old” SOC as CO2 or CH4 to the atmosphere...
Article
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The relative importance of global versus local environmental factors for growth and thus carbon uptake of the bryophyte genus Sphagnum—the main peat-former and ecosystem engineer in northern peatlands—remains unclear. We measured length growth and net primary production (NPP) of two abundant Sphagnum species across 99 Holarctic peatlands. We tested...
Preprint
Full-text available
The contribution of soil heterotrophic respiration to the boreal-Arctic carbon (CO2) cycle and its potential feedback to climate change remain poorly quantified. We developed a remote sensing driven permafrost carbon model at intermediate scale (~ 1 km) to investigate how environmental factors affect the magnitude and seasonality of soil heterotrop...
Article
Full-text available
Permafrost thaw is typically measured with active layer thickness, or the maximum seasonal thaw measured from the ground surface. However, previous work has shown that this measurement alone fails to account for ground subsidence and therefore underestimates permafrost thaw. To determine the impact of subsidence on observed permafrost thaw and thaw...
Article
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Northern lakes are a source of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and contribute substantially to the global carbon budget. However, the sources of methane (CH4) to northern lakes are poorly constrained limiting our ability to the assess impacts of future Arctic change. Here we present measurements of the natural groundwater tracer, radon, and CH4...
Article
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Alaska’s Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (YKD) is one of the warmest parts of the Arctic tundra biome and tundra fires are common in its upland areas. Here, we combine field measurements, Landsat observations, and quantitative cover maps for tundra plant functional types (PFTs) to characterize multi-decadal succession and landscape change after fire in liche...
Article
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An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
Article
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Recent warming in the Arctic, which has been amplified during the winter1,2,3, greatly enhances microbial decomposition of soil organic matter and subsequent release of carbon dioxide (CO2)⁴. However, the amount of CO2 released in winter is not known and has not been well represented by ecosystem models or empirically based estimates5,6. Here we sy...
Article
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Evidence suggests that 5–15% of the vast pool of soil carbon stored in northern permafrost ecosystems could be emitted as greenhouse gases by 2100 under the current path of global warming. However, direct measurements of changes in soil carbon remain scarce, largely because ground subsidence that occurs as the permafrost soils begin to thaw confoun...
Article
Full-text available
Transpiration and stomatal conductance in deciduous needleleaf boreal forests of northern Siberia can be highly sensitive to water stress, permafrost thaw, and atmospheric dryness. Additionally, northeastern Siberian boreal forests are fire driven, and larch (Larix spp.) are the sole tree species. We examined differences in tree water use, stand ch...
Article
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In the version of this Article originally published, the following sentence was missing from the Acknowledgements: “This work was supported by the Norwegian Research Council SnoEco project, grant number 230970”. This text has now been added.
Article
Wildfire is an important disturbance to Arctic tundra ecosystems. In the coming decades, tundra fire frequency, intensity, and extent are projected to increase because of anthropogenic climate change. To more accurately predict the effects of climate change on tundra fire regimes, it is critical to have detailed knowledge of the natural frequency a...
Article
Full-text available
The Yukon–Kuskokwim (YK) Delta is a region of discontinuous permafrost in the subarctic of southwestern Alaska. Many wildfires have occurred in the YK Delta between 1971–2015, impacting vegetation cover, surface soil moisture, and the active layer. Herein, we demonstrate that the remotely sensed active layer thickness (ReSALT) algorithm can resolve...
Article
Warming temperatures are likely to accelerate permafrost thaw in the Arctic, potentially leading to the release of old carbon previously stored in deep frozen soil layers. Deeper thaw depths in combination with geomorphological changes due to the loss of ice structures in permafrost, may modify soil water distribution, creating wetter or drier soil...
Article
Full-text available
Advancing phenology is one of the most visible effects of climate change on plant communities, and has been especially pronounced in temperature-limited tundra ecosystems. However, phenological responses have been shown to differ greatly between species, with some species shifting phenology more than others. We analysed a database of 42,689 tundra...
Article
Full-text available
High latitude warming and permafrost thaw will expose vast stores of deep soil organic carbon (SOC) to decomposition. Thaw also changes water movement causing either wetter or drier soil. The fate of deep SOC under different thaw and moisture conditions is unclear. We measured weekly growing-season δ¹³C of ecosystem respiration (Recoδ¹³C) across th...
Article
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We assess scientific evidence that has emerged since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2009 Endangerment Finding for six well-mixed greenhouse gases, and find that this new evidence lends increased support to the conclusion that these gases pose a danger to public health and welfare. Newly available evidence about a wide range of observed...
Article
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Boreal forests are changing in response to climate, with potentially important feedbacks to regional and global climate through altered carbon cycle and albedo dynamics. These feedback processes will be affected by vegetation changes, and feedback strengths will largely rely on the spatial extent and timing of vegetation change. Satellite remote se...
Article
Full-text available
In the last few decades, temperatures in the Arctic have increased twice as much as the rest of the globe. As permafrost thaws in response to this warming, large amounts of soil organic matter may become vulnerable to decomposition. Microbial decomposition will release carbon (C) from permafrost soils, however, warmer conditions could also lead to...
Article
Fire frequency and severity are increasing in tundra and boreal regions as climate warms, which can directly affect climate feedbacks by increasing carbon (C) emissions from combustion of the large soil C pool and indirectly via changes in vegetation, permafrost thaw, hydrology, and nutrient availability. To better understand the direct and indirec...
Article
Full-text available
Soils in Arctic and boreal ecosystems store twice as much carbon as the atmosphere, a portion of which may be released as high-latitude soils warm. Some of the uncertainty in the timing and magnitude of the permafrost–climate feedback stems from complex interactions between ecosystem properties and soil thermal dynamics. Terrestrial ecosystems fund...
Article
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Rain-fed peatlands are dominated by peat mosses (Sphagnum sp.), which for their growth depend on nutrients, water and CO2 uptake from the atmosphere. As the isotopic composition of carbon (12,13C) and oxygen (16,18O) of these Sphagnum mosses are affected by environmental conditions, Sphagnum tissue accumulated in peat constitutes a potential long-t...
Article
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The Second Warning to Humanity provides a clarion call for wetland researchers and practitioners given the loss and degradation of wetlands, the declining availability of fresh water, and the likely consequences of climate change. A coordinated response and approach to policies has the potential to prevent further degradation and support resilient...
Article
Climate warming can result in both abiotic (e.g., permafrost thaw) and biotic (e.g., microbial functional genes) changes in Arctic tundra. Recent research has incorporated dynamic permafrost thaw in Earth system models (ESMs) and indicates that Arctic tundra could be a significant future carbon (C) source due to the enhanced decomposition of thawed...
Article
Fire severity is increasing across the boreal forest biome as climate warms, and initial post-fire changes in tree demographic processes could be important determinants of long-term forest structure and carbon dynamics. To examine soil burn severity impacts on tree regeneration, we conducted experimental burns in summer 2012 that created a gradient...
Article
Full-text available
Permafrost soils in arctic and boreal ecosystems store twice the amount of current atmospheric carbon that may be mobilized and released to the atmosphere as greenhouse gases when soils thaw under a warming climate. This permafrost carbon climate feedback is among the most globally important terrestrial biosphere feedbacks to climate warming, yet i...
Article
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Part 1 of this review synthesizes recent research on status and climate vulnerability of freshwater and saltwater wetlands, and their contribution to addressing climate change (carbon cycle, adaptation, resilience). Peatlands and vegetated coastal wetlands are among the most carbon rich sinks on the planet sequestering approximately as much carbon...
Article
Full-text available
Rain-fed peatlands are dominated by peat mosses (Sphagnum sp.), which for their growth depend on elements from the atmosphere. As the isotopic composition of carbon (12,13C) and oxygen (16,18O) of these Sphagnum mosses are affected by environmental conditions, the dead Sphagnum tissue accumulated in peat constitutes a potential long-term archive th...
Article
Full-text available
Arctic ecosystems are characterized by a broad range of plant functional types that are highly heterogeneous at small (~1–2 m) spatial scales. Climatic changes can impact vegetation distribution directly, and also indirectly via impacts on disturbance regimes. Consequent changes in vegetation structure and function have implications for surface ene...
Article
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Permafrost soils store between 1330 and 1580 Pg carbon (C), which is 3 times the amount of C in global vegetation, almost twice the amount of C in the atmosphere, and half of the global soil organic C pool. Despite the massive amount of C in permafrost, estimates of soil C storage in the high-latitude permafrost region are highly uncertain, primari...
Article
Full-text available
Large uncertainties exist in carbon (C)-climate feedback in permafrost regions, partly due to an insufficient understanding of warming effects on nutrient availabilities and their subsequent impacts on vegetation C sequestration. Although a warming climate may promote a substantial release of soil C to the atmosphere, a warming-induced increase in...