Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2023-152
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2023-152
24 Oct 2023
 | 24 Oct 2023
Status: a revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal TC and is expected to appear here in due course.

Review article: A systematic review of terrestrial dissolved organic carbon in northern permafrost

Liam Heffernan, Dolly N. Kothawala, and Lars J. Tranvik

Abstract. As the permafrost region warms and permafrost soils thaw, vast pools of soil organic carbon (C) become vulnerable to enhanced microbial decomposition and lateral transport into aquatic ecosystems as dissolved organic carbon (DOC). The mobilization of permafrost soil C can drastically alter the net northern permafrost C budget. DOC entering aquatic ecosystems becomes biological available for degradation as well as other types of aquatic processing. However, it currently remains unclear which landscape characteristics are most relevant to consider in terms of predicting DOC concentrations entering aquatic systems from permafrost regions. Here, we conducted a systematic review of 111 studies relating to, or including, concentrations of DOC in terrestrial permafrost ecosystems in the northern circumpolar region published between 2000–2022. We present a new permafrost DOC dataset consisting of 2,276 DOC concentrations, collected from the top 3 m in permafrost soils across the northern circumpolar region. Concentrations of DOC ranged from 0.1–500 mg L-1 (median = 41 mg L-1) across all permafrost zones, ecoregions, soil types, and thermal horizons. DOC concentrations were greatest in the sporadic permafrost zone (101 mg L-1) while lower concentrations were found in the discontinuous (60 mg L-1) and continuous (59 mg L-1) permafrost zones. The highest median DOC concentrations of 66 mg L-1 and 63 mg L-1 were found in coastal tundra and permafrost bog ecosystems, respectively. Coastal tundra (130 mg L-1), permafrost bogs (78 mg L-1), and permafrost wetlands (57 mg L-1) had the highest DOC concentrations in the permafrost lens, representing a potentially long-term store of DOC. Other than in Yedoma ecosystems, DOC concentrations were found to increase following permafrost thaw and were highly constrained by total dissolved nitrogen concentrations. This systematic review highlights how DOC concentrations differ between organic- or mineral-rich deposits across the circumpolar permafrost region and identifies coastal tundra regions as areas of potentially important DOC mobilization. The quantity of permafrost-derived DOC exported laterally to aquatic ecosystems is an important step for predicting its vulnerability to decomposition.

Liam Heffernan, Dolly N. Kothawala, and Lars J. Tranvik

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2023-152', Anonymous Referee #1, 20 Nov 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Liam Heffernan, 15 Jan 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on tc-2023-152', Anonymous Referee #2, 24 Nov 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Liam Heffernan, 15 Jan 2024
  • CC1: 'Comment on tc-2023-152', Tatiana Raudina, 01 Dec 2023
    • AC4: 'Reply on CC1', Liam Heffernan, 15 Jan 2024
  • RC3: 'Comment on tc-2023-152', Anonymous Referee #3, 04 Dec 2023
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Liam Heffernan, 15 Jan 2024

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2023-152', Anonymous Referee #1, 20 Nov 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Liam Heffernan, 15 Jan 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on tc-2023-152', Anonymous Referee #2, 24 Nov 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Liam Heffernan, 15 Jan 2024
  • CC1: 'Comment on tc-2023-152', Tatiana Raudina, 01 Dec 2023
    • AC4: 'Reply on CC1', Liam Heffernan, 15 Jan 2024
  • RC3: 'Comment on tc-2023-152', Anonymous Referee #3, 04 Dec 2023
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Liam Heffernan, 15 Jan 2024
Liam Heffernan, Dolly N. Kothawala, and Lars J. Tranvik
Liam Heffernan, Dolly N. Kothawala, and Lars J. Tranvik

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Short summary
The northern permafrost region stores half of the worlds soil carbon. As the region warms permafrost thaws and releases dissolved organic carbon, which leads to decomposition of this carbon pool or export into aquatic ecosystems. In this study we developed a new database of 2,276 dissolved organic carbon concentrations in 8 different ecosystems from 111 studies published over 22 years. This study highlights that coastal areas may play an important role in future high latitude carbon cycling.