The following two references adds some support for the statement in my last post that degradation of certain types of permafrost can produce high rates of nitrous oxide emissions:
MARUSHCHAK, M. E., PITKÄMÄKI, A., KOPONEN, H., BIASI, C., SEPPÄLÄ, M. and MARTIKAINEN, P. J. (2011), Hot spots for nitrous oxide emissions found in different types of permafrost peatlands. Global Change Biology, 17: 2601–2614. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02442.xhttp://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02442.x/abstract
Abstract: "Recent findings on large nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from permafrost peatlands have shown that tundra soils can support high N2O release, which is on the contrary to what was thought previously. However, field data on this topic have been very limited, and the spatial and temporal extent of the phenomenon has not been known. To address this question, we studied N2O dynamics in two types of subarctic permafrost peatlands, a peat plateau in Russia and three palsa mires in Finland, including also adjacent upland soils. The peatlands studied have surfaces that are uplifted by frost (palsas and peat plateaus) and partly unvegetated as a result of wind erosion and frost action. Unvegetated peat surfaces with high N2O emissions were found from all the studied peatlands. Very high N2O emissions were measured from peat circles at the Russian site (1.40±0.15 g N2O m−2 yr−1). Elevated, sparsely vegetated peat mounds at the same site had significantly lower N2O release. The N2O emissions from bare palsa surfaces in Northern Finland were highly variable but reached high rates, similar to those measured from the peat circles. All the vegetated soils studied had negligible N2O release. At the bare peat surfaces, the large N2O emissions were supported by the absence of plant N uptake, the low C : N ratio of the peat, the relatively high gross N mineralization rate and favourable moisture content, together increasing availability of mineral N for N2O production. We hypothesize that frost heave is crucial for high N2O emissions, since it lifts the peat above the water table, increasing oxygen availability and making it vulnerable to the the physical processes that may remove the vegetation cover. In the future, permafrost thawing may change the distribution of wet and dry surfaces in permafrost peatlands, which will affect N2O emissions."
Bo Elberling, Hanne H. Christiansen & Birger U. Hansen, (2010), "High nitrous oxide production from thawing permafrost", Nature Geoscience 3, 332 - 335
Abstract: "Permafrost soils contain nearly twice as much carbon as the atmosphere. When these soils thaw, large quantities of carbon are lost, mainly in the form of methane and carbon dioxide. In contrast, thawing is thought to have little impact on nitrous oxide emissions, which remain minimal following the summer thaw. Here, we examined the impact of thawing on nitrous oxide production in permafrost cores collected from a heath site and a wetland site in Zackenberg, Greenland. Rates of nitrous oxide production in the heath soil were minimal, regardless of the hydrological conditions. Although rates of nitrous oxide production in the wetland soil were low following thawing, averaging 1.37 μg N h−1 kg−1, they were 18 μg N h−1 kg−1 for permafrost samples following thawing, drainage and rewetting with the original meltwater. We show that 31% of the nitrous oxide produced after thawing and rewetting a 10-cm permafrost core—equivalent to 34 mg N m−2 d−1—was released to the atmosphere; this is equivalent to daily nitrous oxide emissions from tropical forests on a mean annual basis. Measurements of nitrous oxide production in permafrost samples from five additional wetland sites in the high Arctic indicate that the rates of nitrous oxide production observed in the Zackenberg soils may be in the low range."