The Arctic in the Twenty-First Century: Changing Biogeochemical Linkages across a Paraglacial Landscape of Greenland

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Abstract

The Kangerlussuaq area of southwest Greenland encompasses diverse ecological, geomorphic, and climate gradients that function over a range of spatial and temporal scales. Ecosystems range from the microbial communities on the ice sheet and moisture-stressed terrestrial vegetation (and their associated herbivores) to freshwater and oligosaline lakes. These ecosystems are linked by a dynamic glacio-fluvial-aeolian geomorphic system that transports water, geological material, organic carbon and nutrients from the glacier surface to adjacent terrestrial and aquatic systems. This paraglacial system is now subject to substantial change because of rapid regional warming since 2000. Here, we describe changes in the eco- and geomorphic systems at a range of timescales and explore rapid future change in the links that integrate these systems. We highlight the importance of cross-system subsidies at the landscape scale and, importantly, how these might change in the near future as the Arctic is expected to continue to warm.

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