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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  20 Feb 2020

20 Feb 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Methane Pathways in Winter Ice of Thermokarst Lakes, Lagoons and Coastal Waters in North Siberia

Ines Spangenberg1,2, Pier Paul Overduin2, Ellen Damm2, Ingeborg Bussmann3, Hanno Meyer2, Susanne Liebner1,4, Michael Angelopoulos2, Boris K. Biskaborn2, Mikhail N. Grigoriev5, and Guido Grosse1,2 Ines Spangenberg et al.
  • 1Institute of Geosciences, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
  • 2Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam, Germany
  • 3lfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Helgoland, Germany
  • 4Section of Geomicrobiology, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany
  • 5Mel’nikov Permafrost Institute, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Yakutsk, Russia

Abstract. The thermokarst lakes of permafrost regions play a major role in the global carbon cycle. These lakes are sources of methane to the atmosphere but the methane flux is restricted by an ice cover for most of the year. We provide insights into the methane pathways in the winter ice cover on three different water bodies in a continuous permafrost region in Siberia. The first is a bay underlain by submarine permafrost (Tiksi Bay, TB), the second a shallow thermokarst lagoon (Polar Fox, PF) and the third a land-locked, freshwater thermokarst lake (Goltsovoye Lake, GL). In total, 11 ice cores were analyzed as records of the freezing process and methane pathways during the winter season. In TB, the hydrochemical parameters indicate an open system freezing. In contrast, PF was classified as a semi-closed system, where ice growth eventually cuts off exchange between the lagoon and the ocean. The GL is a closed system without connections to other water bodies. Ice on all water bodies was mostly methane-supersaturated with respect to the atmospheric equilibrium concentration, except of three cores from the lake. Generally, the TB ice had low methane concentrations (3.48–8.44 nM) compared to maximum concentrations of the PF ice (2.59–539 nM) and widely varying concentrations in the GL ice (0.02–14817 nM). Stable delta13CCH4 isotope signatures indicate that methane above the ice-water interface was oxidized to concentrations close to or below the calculated atmospheric equilibrium concentration in the ice of PF. We conclude that methane oxidation in ice may decrease methane concentrations during winter. Therefore, understanding seasonal effects to methane pathways in Arctic saline influenced or freshwater systems is critical to anticipate permafrost carbon feedbacks in course of global warming.

Ines Spangenberg et al.

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Ines Spangenberg et al.

Ines Spangenberg et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Thermokarst lakes are common on ice-rich permafrost. Many studies have shown that they are sources of methane to the atmosphere. Although they are usually covered by ice, little is known about what happens to methane in winter. We studied how much methane is contained in the ice of a thermokarst lake, a thermokarst lagoon and offshore. Methane concentrations differed strongly, depending on water body type. Microbes can also oxidize methane in ice and lower the concentrations during winter.
Thermokarst lakes are common on ice-rich permafrost. Many studies have shown that they are...