Direct observation of #permafrost #degradation and rapid #soil #carbon loss in #tundra (Nat Geosci., abstract)

[Source: Nature Geoscience, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]

Article | Published: 01 July 2019

Direct observation of permafrost degradation and rapid soil carbon loss in tundra

César Plaza, Elaine Pegoraro, Rosvel Bracho, Gerardo Celis, Kathryn G. Crummer, Jack A. Hutchings, Caitlin E. Hicks Pries, Marguerite Mauritz, Susan M. Natali, Verity G. Salmon, Christina Schädel, Elizabeth E. Webb & Edward A. G. Schuur

Nature Geoscience (2019)

 

Abstract

Evidence suggests that 5–15% of the vast pool of soil carbon stored in northern permafrost ecosystems could be emitted as greenhouse gases by 2100 under the current path of global warming. However, direct measurements of changes in soil carbon remain scarce, largely because ground subsidence that occurs as the permafrost soils begin to thaw confounds the traditional quantification of carbon pools based on fixed depths or soil horizons. This issue is overcome when carbon is quantified in relation to a fixed ash content, which uses the relatively stable mineral component of soil as a metric for pool comparisons through time. We applied this approach to directly measure soil carbon pool changes over five years in experimentally warmed and ambient tundra ecosystems at a site in Alaska where permafrost is degrading due to climate change. We show a loss of soil carbon of 5.4% per year (95% confidence interval: 1.0, 9.5) across the site. Our results point to lateral hydrological export as a potential pathway for these surprisingly large losses. This research highlights the potential to make repeat soil carbon pool measurements at sentinel sites across the permafrost region, as this feedback to climate change may be occurring faster than previously thought.

Keywords: Climate change; Global warming; Permafrost.

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gimi69

I am an Italian blogger, active since 2005 with main focus on emerging infectious diseases such as avian influenza, SARS, antibiotics resistance, and many other global Health issues. Other fields of interest are: climate change, global warming, geological and biological sciences. My activity consists mainly in collection and analysis of news, public services updates, confronting sources and making decision about what are the 'signals' of an impending crisis (an outbreak, for example). When a signal is detected, I follow traces during the entire course of an event. I started in 2005 my blog ''A TIME'S MEMORY'', now with more than 40,000 posts and 3 millions of web interactions. Subsequently I added an Italian Language blog, then discontinued because of very low traffic and interest. I contributed for seven years to a public forum (FluTrackers.com) in the midst of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014, I left the site to continue alone my data tracking job.

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