Amplified carbon release from vast West Siberian peatlands by 2100
Extensive new data from previously unstudied Siberian streams and rivers suggest that mobilization of currently frozen, high-latitude soil carbon is likely over the next century in response to predicted Arctic warming. We present dissolved organic carbon (DOC) measurements from ninety-six watersheds in West Siberia, a region that contains the world's largest stores of peat carbon, exports massive volumes of freshwater and DOC to the Arctic Ocean, and is warming faster than the Arctic as a whole. The sample sites span ∼106 km2 over a large climatic gradient (∼55-68°N), providing data on a much broader spatial scale than previous studies and for the first time explicitly examining stream DOC in permafrost peatland environments. Our results show that cold, permafrost-influenced watersheds release little DOC to streams, regardless of the extent of peatland cover. However, we find considerably higher concentrations in warm, permafrost-free watersheds, rising sharply as a function of peatland cover. The two regimes are demarcated by the position of the -2°C mean annual air temperature (MAAT) isotherm, which is also approximately coincident with the permafrost limit. Climate model simulations for the next century predict near-doubling of West Siberian land surface areas with a MAAT warmer than -2°C, suggesting up to ∼700% increases in stream DOC concentrations and ∼2.7-4.3 Tg yr-1 (∼29-46%) increases in DOC flux to the Arctic Ocean. Copyright 2005 by the American Geophysical Union.
Geophysical Research Letters
Frey, Karen E. and Smith, Laurence C., "Amplified carbon release from vast West Siberian peatlands by 2100" (2005). Geography. 249.