Soil organic carbon pools in permafrost regions

Category Other
Group GSI.IR
Location International Geological Congress,oslo 2008
Author Kuhry, Peter۱; Tarnocai, Charles۲; Canadell, Pep۳; Jones, Arwyn۴; Schuur, Ted۵
Holding Date 11 October 2008

The IPA (International Permafrost Association) CAPP (Carbon Pools in Permafrost Regions) Project aims at assessing below-ground organic matter along ecoclimatic and edaphic gradients in high latitude and high altitude regions characterized by the presence of isolated to continuous permafrost. The CAPP Project will contribute to and initiate new research activities at up to 10-12 high latitude transects in the Northern Hemisphere representing the range of ecoclimatic and permafrost regions, complemented by 2 transects in the sub-Antarctic and Antarctic regions, and additional altitudinal transects in high alpine environments.
Intensive study sites along these transects will permit to investigate the allocation of below-ground carbon in the landscape, comparing quantity and quality between different permafrost settings. The organic matter quality will be analyzed using a hierarchy of increasingly sophisticated geochemical and absolute dating techniques. Within the context of IPY 2007-2009, the IPY-CAPP Project (#373), in close cooperation with the IPA CWG (Cryosol Working Group), the European Commission JRC (Joint Research Centre) in Ispra (Italy) and the Global Carbon Project, is preparing an important update of the Northern Circumpolar Soil Carbon Database. The total carbon pool for the northern circumpolar permafrost region is now estimated at 496 PgC for 0–100 cm depth and 1024 PgC for 0–300 cm depth. The latter would represent 35% or more of the global below-ground organic carbon stocks for the same depth interval.
Deeper deltaic and Yedoma deposits in the permafrost region account for another ca. 648 PgC (Tarnocai et al., in prep.). Furthermore, an Atlas of Northern Circumpolar Soil was recently produced (Jones et al., Eds., 2008). New CAPP related research is presently underway in Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia and Russia. An important consideration for these activities is to further evaluate the fate of ’permafrost carbon’ under conditions of global warming (and permafrost thawing) and to assess climatic feedbacks from high latitude below-ground carbon pools on global warming due to physical (ground subsidence, altered drainage, thermokarst erosion, etc.) and biogeochemical (decomposition, leaching, fire, etc.) changes.