Permafrost ground is one of the largest repositories of terrestrial organic carbon and might become or already is a carbon source in response to ongoing global warming. With this study of syngenetically frozen, ice-rich and organic carbon (OC)-bearing Yedoma and associated alas deposits in central Yakutia (Republic of Sakha), we aimed to assess the local sediment deposition regime and its impact on permafrost carbon storage. For this purpose, we investigated the Yukechi alas area (61.76495∘ N, 130.46664∘ E), which is a thermokarst landscape degrading into Yedoma in central Yakutia. We retrieved two sediment cores (Yedoma upland, 22.35 m deep, and alas basin, 19.80 m deep) in 2015 and analyzed the biogeochemistry, sedimentology, radiocarbon dates and stable isotope geochemistry. The laboratory analyses of both cores revealed very low total OC (TOC) contents (<0.1 wt %) for a 12 m section in each core, whereas the remaining sections ranged from 0.1 wt % to 2.4 wt % TOC. The core sections holding very little to no detectable OC consisted of coarser sandy material were estimated to be between 39 000 and 18 000 BP (years before present) in age. For this period, we assume the deposition of organic-poor material. Pore water stable isotope data from the Yedoma core indicated a continuously frozen state except for the surface sample, thereby ruling out Holocene reworking. In consequence, we see evidence that no strong organic matter (OM) decomposition took place in the sediments of the Yedoma core until today. The alas core from an adjacent thermokarst basin was strongly disturbed by lake development and permafrost thaw. Similar to the Yedoma core, some sections of the alas core were also OC poor (<0.1 wt %) in 17 out of 28 samples. The Yedoma deposition was likely influenced by fluvial regimes in nearby streams and the Lena River shifting with climate. With its coarse sediments with low OC content (OC mean of 5.27 kg m−3), the Yedoma deposits in the Yukechi area differ from other Yedoma sites in North Yakutia that were generally characterized by silty sediments with higher OC contents (OC mean of 19 kg m−3 for the non-ice wedge sediment). Therefore, we conclude that sedimentary composition and deposition regimes of Yedoma may differ considerably within the Yedoma domain. The resulting heterogeneity should be taken into account for future upscaling approaches on the Yedoma carbon stock. The alas core, strongly affected by extensive thawing processes during the Holocene, indicates a possible future pathway of ground subsidence and further OC decomposition for thawing central Yakutian Yedoma deposits.
Ice-rich yedoma-dominated landscapes store considerable amounts of organic carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) and are vulnerable to degradation under climate warming. We investigate the C and N pools in two thermokarst-affected yedoma landscapes – on Sobo-Sise Island and on Bykovsky Peninsula in the north of eastern Siberia. Soil cores up to 3 m depth were collected along geomorphic gradients and analysed for organic C and N contents. A high vertical sampling density in the profiles allowed the calculation of C and N stocks for short soil column intervals and enhanced understanding of within-core parameter variability. Profile-level C and N stocks were scaled to the landscape level based on landform classifications from 5 m resolution, multispectral RapidEye satellite imagery. Mean landscape C and N storage in the first metre of soil for Sobo-Sise Island is estimated to be 20.2 kg C m−2 and 1.8 kg N m−2 and for Bykovsky Peninsula 25.9 kg C m−2 and 2.2 kg N m−2. Radiocarbon dating demonstrates the Holocene age of thermokarst basin deposits but also suggests the presence of thick Holocene-age cover layers which can reach up to 2 m on top of intact yedoma landforms. Reconstructed sedimentation rates of 0.10–0.57 mm yr−1 suggest sustained mineral soil accumulation across all investigated landforms. Both yedoma and thermokarst landforms are characterized by limited accumulation of organic soil layers (peat). We further estimate that an active layer deepening of about 100 cm will increase organic C availability in a seasonally thawed state in the two study areas by ∼ 5.8 Tg (13.2 kg C m−2). Our study demonstrates the importance of increasing the number of C and N storage inventories in ice-rich yedoma and thermokarst environments in order to account for high variability of permafrost and thermokarst environments in pan-permafrost soil C and N pool estimates.
It is important that climate models can accurately simulate the terrestrial carbon cycle in the Arctic due to the large and potentially labile carbon stocks found in permafrost-affected environments, which can lead to a positive climate feedback, along with the possibility of future carbon sinks from northward expansion of vegetation under climate warming. Here we evaluate the simulation of tundra carbon stocks and fluxes in three land surface schemes that each form part of major Earth system models (JSBACH, Germany; JULES, UK; ORCHIDEE, France). We use a site-level approach in which comprehensive, high-frequency datasets allow us to disentangle the importance of different processes. The models have improved physical permafrost processes and there is a reasonable correspondence between the simulated and measured physical variables, including soil temperature, soil moisture and snow. We show that if the models simulate the correct leaf area index (LAI), the standard C3 photosynthesis schemes produce the correct order of magnitude of carbon fluxes. Therefore, simulating the correct LAI is one of the first priorities. LAI depends quite strongly on climatic variables alone, as we see by the fact that the dynamic vegetation model can simulate most of the differences in LAI between sites, based almost entirely on climate inputs. However, we also identify an influence from nutrient limitation as the LAI becomes too large at some of the more nutrient-limited sites. We conclude that including moss as well as vascular plants is of primary importance to the carbon budget, as moss contributes a large fraction to the seasonal CO2 flux in nutrient-limited conditions. Moss photosynthetic activity can be strongly influenced by the moisture content of moss, and the carbon uptake can be significantly different from vascular plants with a similar LAI. The soil carbon stocks depend strongly on the rate of input of carbon from the vegetation to the soil, and our analysis suggests that an improved simulation of photosynthesis would also lead to an improved simulation of soil carbon stocks. However, the stocks are also influenced by soil carbon burial (e.g. through cryoturbation) and the rate of heterotrophic respiration, which depends on the soil physical state. More detailed below-ground measurements are needed to fully evaluate biological and physical soil processes. Furthermore, even if these processes are well modelled, the soil carbon profiles cannot resemble peat layers as peat accumulation processes are not represented in the models. Thus, we identify three priority areas for model development: (1) dynamic vegetation including (a) climate and (b) nutrient limitation effects; (2) adding moss as a plant functional type; and an (3) improved vertical profile of soil carbon including peat processes.
The composition of perennially frozen deposits holds information on the palaeo-environment during and following deposition. In this study, we investigate late Pleistocene permafrost at the western coast of the Buor Khaya Peninsula in the south-central Laptev Sea (Siberia), namely the prominent eastern Siberian Yedoma Ice Complex (IC). Two Yedoma IC exposures and one drill core were studied for cryolithological (i.e. ice and sediment features), geochemical, and geochronological parameters. Borehole temperatures were measured for 3 years to capture the current thermal state of permafrost. The studied sequences were composed of ice-oversaturated silts and fine-grained sands with considerable amounts of organic matter (0.2 to 24 wt %). Syngenetic ice wedges intersect the frozen deposits. The deposition of the Yedoma IC, as revealed by radiocarbon dates of sedimentary organic matter, took place between 54.1 and 30.1 kyr BP. Continued Yedoma IC deposition until about 14.7 kyr BP is shown by dates from organic matter preserved in ice-wedge ice. For the lowermost and oldest Yedoma IC part, infrared-stimulated luminescence dates on feldspar show deposition ages between 51.1 ± 4.9 and 44.2 ± 3.6 kyr BP. End-member modelling was applied to grain-size-distribution data to determined sedimentation processes during Yedoma IC formation. Three to five robust end-members were detected within Yedoma IC deposits, which we interpret as different modes of primary and reworked unconfined alluvial slope and fan deposition as well as of localized eolian and fluvial sediment, which is overprinted by in situ frost weathering. The cryolithological inventory of the Yedoma IC preserved on the Buor Khaya Peninsula is closely related to the results of other IC studies, for example, to the west on the Bykovsky Peninsula, where formation time (mainly during the late Pleistocene marine isotope stages (MIS) 3 interstadial) and formation conditions were similar. Local freezing conditions on Buor Khaya, however, differed and created solute-enriched (salty) and isotopically light pore water pointing to a small talik layer and thaw-bulb freezing after deposition. Due to intense coastal erosion, the biogeochemical signature of the studied Yedoma IC represents the terrestrial end-member, and is closely related to organic matter currently being deposited in the marine realm of the Laptev Sea shelf.
The deep-sea hydrothermal vent mussel Bathymodiolus azoricus is a symbiont bearing bivalve that is found in great abundance at the Menez Gwen and Lucky Strike vent sites and in close vicinity off the Azores region near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR). The distinct relationships that vent mussels have developed with their physical and chemical environments are likely reflected in global gene expression profiles providing thus a means to distinguish geographically distinct vent mussels on the basis of gene expression studies, fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) experiments and 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing, to assess the natural expression of bacterial genes and vent mussel immune genes and the constitutive distribution and relative abundance of endosymbiotic bacteria within gill tissues. Our results confirmed the presence of methanotroph-related endosymbionts in Menez Gwen vent mussels whereas Lucky Strike specimens seem to harbor a different bacterial morphotype when a methane monooxygenase gene specific probe was used. No qualitative differences could be visualized between Menez Gwen and Lucky Strike individuals when tested with sulfur-oxidizing-related nucleic-acid probe. Quantitative PCR (qPCR) studies revealed varied gene expression profiles in both Menez Gwen and Lucky Strike mussel gill tissues for the immune genes selected. Genes encoding transcription factors presented noticeably low levels of fold expression whether in MG or LS animals whereas the genes encoding effector molecules appeared to have higher levels expression in MG gill tissues. The peptidoglycan recognition molecule, encoding gene, PGRP presented the highest level of transcriptional activity among the genes analyzed in MG gill tissues, seconded by carcinolectin and thus denoting the relevance of immune recognition molecules in early stage of the immune responses onset. Genes regarded as encoding molecules involved in signaling pathways were consistently expressed in both MG and LS gill tissues. Remarkably, the immunity-related GTPase encoding gene demonstrated in LS samples, the highest level of expression among the signaling molecule encoding genes tested when expressions levels were compared between MG and LG animals. A differential expression analysis of bacterial genes between MG and LS indicated a clear expression signature in LS gill tissues. The bacterial community structure ensued from the 16S rRNA sequencing analyses pointed at a unpredicted conservation of endosymbiont bacterial loads between MG and LS samples. Taken together, our results support the premise that Bathymodiolus azoricus exhibits different transcriptional statuses depending on which hydrothermal vent site it is collected from and within the same collection site while exhibiting differential levels of expression of genes corresponding to different immune functional categories. The present study represents a first attempt to characterize gene expression signatures in hydrothermal vent animals issued from distinct deep-sea environmental sites based on immune and bacterial genes expressions.