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Field information links permafrost carbon to physical vulnerabilities of thawing

Geophysical Research Letters

By:
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DOI: 10.1029/2012GL051958

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Abstract

Deep soil profiles containing permafrost (Gelisols) were characterized for organic carbon (C) and total nitrogen (N) stocks to 3m depths. Using the Community Climate System Model (CCSM4) we calculate cumulative probability functions (PDFs) for active layer depths under current and future climates. The difference in PDFs over time was multiplied by C and N contents of soil horizons in Gelisol suborders to calculate newly thawed C and N, Thawing ranged from 147 PgC with 10 PgN by 2050 (representative concentration pathway RCP scenario 4.5) to 436 PgC with 29 PgN by 2100 (RCP 8.5). Organic horizons that thaw are vulnerable to combustion, and all horizon types are vulnerable to shifts in hydrology and decomposition. The rates and extent of such losses are unknown and can be further constrained by linking field and modelling approaches. These changes have the potential for strong additional loading to our atmosphere, water resources, and ecosystems.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Field information links permafrost carbon to physical vulnerabilities of thawing
Series title:
Geophysical Research Letters
DOI:
10.1029/2012GL051958
Volume
39
Year Published:
2012
Language:
English
Publisher:
American Geophysical Union
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s):
Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Description:
6 p.; L15704
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Geophysical Research Letters