Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Systems Ecology

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

John S. Kimball

Commitee Members

Steven W. Running, Cory S. Cleveland, Anna E. Klene, Marco P. Maneta


University of Montana


The impact of warming on the net ecosystem carbon budget (NECB) in Arctic-boreal regions remains highly uncertain. Heightened CH4 emissions from Arctic-boreal ecosystems could shift the northern NECB from an annual carbon sink further towards net carbon source. Northern wetland CH4 fluxes may be particularly sensitive to climate warming, increased soil temperatures and duration of the soil non-frozen period. Changes in northern high latitude surface hydrology will also impact the NECB, with surface and soil wetting resulting from thawing permafrost landscapes and shifts in precipitation patterns; summer drought conditions can potentially reduce vegetation productivity and land sink of atmospheric CO2 but also moderate the magnitude of CH4 increase.

The first component of this work develops methods to assess seasonal variability and longer term trends in Arctic-boreal surface water inundation from satellite microwave observations, and quantifies estimate uncertainty. The second component of this work uses this information to improve understanding of impacts associated with changing environmental conditions on high latitude wetland CH4 emissions. The third component focuses on the development of a satellite remote sensing data informed Terrestrial Carbon Flux (TCF) model for northern wetland regions to quantify daily CH4 emissions and the NECB, in addition to vegetation productivity and landscape CO2 respiration loss. Finally, the fourth component of this work features further enhancement of the TCF model by improving representation of diverse tundra and boreal wetland ecosystem land cover types. A comprehensive database for tower eddy covariance CO2 and CH4 flux observations for the Arctic-boreal region was developed to support these efforts, providing an assessment of the TCF model ability to accurately quantify contemporary changes in regional terrestrial carbon sink/source strength.



© Copyright 2017 Jennifer D. Watts