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Arctic wetland system dynamics under climate warming

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Abstract Warming and hydrological changes have already affected and shifted environments in the Arctic. Arctic wetlands are complex systems of coupled hydrological, ecological, and permafrost‐related processes, vulnerable to such environmental changes. This review uses a systems perspective approach to synthesize and elucidate the various interlinked responses and feedbacks of Arctic wetlands to hydroclimatic changes. Starting from increased air temperatures, subsequent permafrost thaw and concurrent hydrological changes are identified as key factors for both shrinkage and expansion of wetland area. Other diverse factors further interact with warming, hydrological changes, and permafrost thaw in altering the Arctic wetland systems. Surface albedo shifts driven by land cover alterations are powerful in reinforcing Arctic warming, while vegetation‐related factors can balance and decelerate permafrost thaw, causing negative feedback loops. With the vast amounts of carbon stored in Arctic wetlands, their changes in turn affect the global carbon cycle. Overall, the systems perspectives outlined and highlighted in this review can be useful in structuring and elucidating the interactions of wetlands with climate, hydrological, and other environmental changes in the Arctic, including the essential permafrost‐carbon feedback. This article is categorized under: Water and Life > Nature of Freshwater Ecosystems Water and Life > Stresses and Pressures on Ecosystems Science of Water > Water and Environmental Change
Climate‐driven processes leading to (a) expansion or (b) shrinkage of wetlands in the Arctic; relevant parameters and their interactions are marked as positive (blue) or negative (red) links. Key considered drivers (boxed) of changes in Arctic wetlands are here hydro‐climatic change (including temperature and hydrologic changes) and associated permafrost changes
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Summary of environmental changes in the Arctic caused by warming and their impacts on wetland systems
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Carbon dynamics and positive and negative feedback mechanisms in Arctic wetland systems (marked with blue plus and red minus signs, respectively) including carbon sequestration and emissions under warming as well as enhanced ecosystem disturbances
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Positive (blue) and negative (red) interactions between environmental parameters relevant to the ground thermal regime, which create positive and negative feedback mechanisms (marked with plus and minus signs, respectively) that can reinforce or balance ground temperatures
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Positive (blue) and negative (red) interactions between environmental parameters relevant to Arctic wetland systems and related to surface albedo, which create positive and negative feedback mechanisms (marked with plus and minus signs, respectively) that can reinforce or balance warming
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Science of Water > Water and Environmental Change
Water and Life > Stresses and Pressures on Ecosystems
Water and Life > Nature of Freshwater Ecosystems

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