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Other research product . 2020

First Pan-Arctic Assessment of Dissolved Organic Carbon in Permafrost-Region Lakes

Stolpmann, Lydia; Coch, Caroline; Morgenstern, Anne; Boike, Julia; Fritz, Michael; Herzschuh, Ulrike; Stoof-Leichsenring, Kathleen; +8 Authors
Open Access
Published: 11 Nov 2020

Lakes in permafrost regions are dynamic landscape components and play an important role for climate change feedbacks. Lake processes such as mineralization and flocculation of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), one of the main carbon fractions in lakes, contribute to the greenhouse effect and are part of the global carbon cycle. These processes are in focus of climate research but studies so far are limited to specific study regions. In our synthesis, we analysed 2,167 water samples from 1,833 lakes across the Arctic in permafrost regions of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Siberia to provide first pan-Arctic insights for linkages between DOC concentrations and the environment. Using published data and unpublished datasets from the author team we report regional DOC differences linked to latitude, permafrost zones, ecoregions, geology, near-surface soil organic carbon contents, and ground ice classification of each lake region. The lake DOC concentrations in our dataset range from 0 mg L−1 to 1,130 mg L−1 (10.8 mg L−1 median DOC concentration). Regarding the permafrost regions of our synthesis, we found median lake DOC concentrations of 12.4 mg L−1 (Siberia), 12.3 mg L−1 (Alaska), 10.3 mg L−1 (Greenland), and 4.5 mg L−1 (Canada). Our synthesis shows a significant relationship of lake DOC concentration and ecoregion of the lake. We found higher lake DOC concentrations in boreal permafrost sites compared to tundra sites. About 22 % of the lakes in our extensive dataset are located in regions with ice-rich syngenetic permafrost deposits (yedoma). Yedoma contains large amounts of easily erodible organic carbon and we found significantly higher DOC concentrations in yedoma lakes compared to non-yedoma lakes. Compared to previous studies we found a weak significant relationship of soil organic carbon content and lake DOC concentration as well as between ground-ice content and lake DOC. Our pan-Arctic dataset shows that the DOC concentration of a lake strongly depends on its environmental properties, especially on permafrost extent and ecoregion, as well as vegetation, which is the most important driver of lake DOC in this study. This new dataset will be fundamental to quantify a pan-Arctic lake DOC pool for estimations of the impact of lake DOC on the global carbon cycle and climate change.

Funded by
Rapid Permafrost Thaw in a Warming Arctic and Impacts on the Soil Organic Carbon Pool
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 338335
  • Funding stream: FP7 | SP2 | ERC
Related to Research communities
European Marine Science
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