Sea-ice induced growth decline in Arctic shrubs

Measures of increased tundra plant productivity have been associated with the accelerating retreat of the Arctic sea-ice. Emerging studies document opposite effects, advocating for a more complex relationship between the shrinking sea-ice and terrestrial plant productivity. I introduce an auto-regressive plant growth model integrating effects of biological and climatic conditions for analysing individual ring-width growth time series. Using 128 specimens of Salix arctica, S. glauca and Betula nana sampled across Greenland to Svalbard, an overall negative effect of the retreating June sea-ice extent was found on the annual growth. The negative effect of the retreating June sea-ice was observed for younger individuals with large annual growth allocations and with little or no trade-off between previous and current year’s growth.