Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2016-65
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2016-65

  20 Apr 2016

20 Apr 2016

Review status: this preprint was under review for the journal TC but the revision was not accepted.

Controls on the distribution of the soil organic matter in mountain permafrost regions on the north Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

Cuicui Mu, Tingjun Zhang, Xiankai Zhang, Hong Guo, Bin Cao, Lili Li, Hang Su, and Xiaoqing Peng Cuicui Mu et al.
  • Key Laboratory of Western China's Environmental Systems (Ministry of Education), College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, 730000, China

Abstract. It has been known a large amount of soil organic carbon (SOC) have been accumulated over thousands of years and stored at considerable depths in permafrost regions, which could extent down tens of meters. Although the vegetation plays an important role in the distribution of SOC in upper 1 or 2 m soils, little is known about the determines of the organic carbon pools below these depths. We hypothesized that the SOM distribution and its chemical characteristics for different depths were determined by vegetation types and soil texture in mountain permafrost. To test the hypothesis, ten boreholes which were about 20 m depth under alpine swamp meadow (ASM), alpine meadow (AM) and alpine steppe (AS) were drilled in the permafrost regions on the northern Qinghai Tibetan Plateau. The results showed that the SOC stocks were highest over ASM, and lowest over AS for different depths. The soil textures were mainly silt loam over ASM, while varied with sandy loam, silt loam, and sand in AM. All the soils with higher fine-fractions have higher SOC contents than that in coarse soils. Meanwhile, the C / N ratios and carbon isotopes suggested that the SOC pools accompanied with fine-fractions soils under swamp meadow are more decomposable than those of coarse soils. Our results suggest and both the SOC stocks distribution and the chemical nature of organic matter are determined by the soil texture and vegetation types, and this rule is applicable for SOC distribution for the 20 m depth in mountain permafrost regions.

Cuicui Mu et al.

 
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Cuicui Mu et al.

Cuicui Mu et al.

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Short summary
Permafrost stores massive amounts of carbon. Our results showed that deep soil carbon contents were highest over wet grasslands, and lowest over dry grasslands for different depths. The soils have higher proportions fine particles in wet grasslands, while have higher proportions of coarse fractions such as sand and gravels. Our results also demonstrated that organic carbon pools accompanied with fine-fractions soils under wet grasslands are more decomposable than those of coarse soils.