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TitleThe long-term fate of permafrost peatlands under rapid climate warming
AuthorSwindles, G T; Morris, P J; Mullan, D; Watson, E; Turner, T E; Roland, T P; Amesbury, M J; Kokfelt, U; Schoning, K; Pratte, S; Gallego-Sala, A; Charman, D J; Sanderson, N; Garneau, N; Carrivick, J L; Woulds, C; Holden, J; Parry, L; Galloway, J M
SourceScientific Reports 5, 17951, 2015., https://doi.org/10.1038/srep17951
Year2015
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20150354
PublisherNatureresearch
Documentserial
Lang.English
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
AreaAbisko region; Sweden
Lat/Long WENS 18.2500 19.0833 68.5000 68.2500
Subjectssurficial geology/geomorphology; permafrost; peatlands; climate effects; climate; modelling; methane; soil moisture; soil studies; ground thaw; carbon storage; climate warming
Illustrationsgraphs; plots; photographs
ProgramTools for environmental impacts and adaptation for metal mining, Environmental Geoscience
AbstractPermafrost peatlands contain globally important amounts of soil organic carbon, owing to cold conditions which suppress anaerobic decomposition. However, climate warming and permafrost thaw threaten the stability of this carbon store. The ultimate fate of permafrost peatlands and their carbon stores is unclear because of complex feedbacks between peat accumulation, hydrology and vegetation.
Field monitoring campaigns only span the last few decades and therefore provide an incomplete picture of permafrost peatland response to recent rapid warming. Here we use a high-resolution palaeoecological approach to understand the longer-term response of peatlands in contrasting states of permafrost degradation to recent rapid warming. At all sites we identify a drying trend until the late-twentieth century; however, two sites subsequently experienced a rapid shift to wetter conditions as permafrost thawed in response to climatic warming, culminating in collapse of the peat domes. Commonalities between study sites lead us to propose a five-phase model for permafrost peatland response to climatic warming. This model suggests a shared ecohydrological trajectory towards a common end point: inundated Arctic fen. Although carbon accumulation is rapid in such sites, saturated soil conditions are likely to cause elevated methane emissions that have implications for climatefeedback mechanisms.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
Permafrost peatlands contain globally important carbon stores. However, climate warming and permafrost thaw threaten their stability. We use high-resolution palaeoecological records of testate amoebae to reconstruct the long-term response of peatlands in different states of degradation resulting from recent warming. We identify a drying trend until the late-20th century; however, two sites subsequently experienced a rapid shift to wetter conditions as permafrost thawed in response to recent warming, culminating in peat dome collapse. We propose a five-phase model for permafrost peatland response to climate warming that suggests a shared ecohydrological trajectory towards a common end point: inundated Arctic fen.
GEOSCAN ID297434