Climate warming in polar regions is associated with thawing of permafrost, resulting in significant changes in soil hydrology, biogeochemical cycling, and in the activity and composition of soil communities. While ongoing, directional climate warming can elicit such responses over decadal time scales, their manifestation typically occurs as discrete thawing pulses. Indeed, in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica abrupt changes in community structure and biogeochemical cycling in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems following a summer warming event (Jan.
The McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica, are experiencing rapid landscape scale change including increased glacial melt, the expansion of water tracks, thermokarst formation, an increase in the extent of the soil active layer, lake level rise, and altered stream flow. The impacts of these changes for biological communities are currently unknown. The goal of this study was to conduct surveys and experiments in three Dry Valley soil habitats that are expected to undergo change: water tracks, lake margins, and active layer profiles.