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Author Topic: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback  (Read 10018 times)

wili

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Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« on: May 02, 2013, 08:16:06 PM »
I don't know if this should be here or in the 'Science' thread, but it strikes me that this is a very important recent paper that was discussed on a number of climate science forums, and would be worthwhile discussing here.

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v5/n10/full/ngeo1573.html

Significant contribution to climate warming from the permafrost carbon feedback


    Andrew H. MacDougall,   
    Christopher A. Avis   
    & Andrew J. Weaver

    Nature Geoscience
    5, 719–721
    (2012)

Abstract:

Permafrost soils contain an estimated 1,700 Pg of carbon, almost twice the present atmospheric carbon pool1. As permafrost soils thaw owing to climate warming, respiration of organic matter within these soils will transfer carbon to the atmosphere, potentially leading to a positive feedback2. Models in which the carbon cycle is uncoupled from the atmosphere, together with one-dimensional models, suggest that permafrost soils could release 7–138 Pg carbon by 2100 (refs 3, 4).

Here, we use a coupled global climate model to quantify the magnitude of the warming generated by the feedback between permafrost carbon release and climate. According to our simulations, permafrost soils will release between 68 and 508 Pg carbon by 2100.

We show that the additional surface warming generated by the feedback between permafrost carbon and climate is independent of the pathway of anthropogenic emissions followed in the twenty-first century.

We estimate that this feedback could result in an additional warming of 0.13–1.69 °C by 2300. We further show that the upper bound for the strength of the feedback is reached under the less intensive emissions pathways. We suggest that permafrost carbon release could lead to significant warming, even under less intensive emissions trajectories.

I would appreciate it if someone with greater skills than I have in that direction could cut and past the figures from the article linked above.

Here is the coverage by Skeptical Science of the piece (from which I stole my subject headline):

http://www.skepticalscience.com/Macdougall.html

It was also covered nicely by Kathy (whose very appropriate imho response was "oh shit!") at Climate Sight:

http://climatesight.org/2012/10/02/permafrost-projections/

The otherwise-staid Tamino used "Oh Shit" as the title for his entry on this same article (and maybe is the one I should have used here):

http://tamino.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/oh-shit/

If people have other links to discussions on the topic, please include them. I will just give a bit of a summarizing quote from Kate here:

As a result of the thawing permafrost, the land switched from a carbon sink (net CO2 absorber) to a carbon source (net CO2 emitter) decades earlier than it would have otherwise – before 2100 for every DEP. The ocean kept absorbing carbon, but in some scenarios the carbon source of the land outweighed the carbon sink of the ocean. That is, even without human emissions, the land was emitting more CO2 than the ocean could soak up.

Concentrations kept climbing indefinitely, even if human emissions suddenly dropped to zero.


This is the part of the paper that made me want to hide under my desk.

This scenario wasn’t too hard to reach, either – if climate sensitivity was greater than 3°C warming per doubling of CO2 (about a 50% chance, as 3°C is the median estimate by scientists today), and people followed DEP 8.5 to at least 2013 before stopping all emissions (a very intense scenario, but I wouldn’t underestimate our ability to dig up fossil fuels and burn them really fast), permafrost thaw ensured that CO2 concentrations kept rising on their own in a self-sustaining loop...
As if that weren’t enough, the paper goes on to list a whole bunch of reasons why their values are likely underestimates...

This paper went in my mental “oh shit” folder, because it made me realize that we are starting to lose control over the climate system.

No matter what path we follow – even if we manage slightly negative emissions, i.e. artificially removing CO2 from the atmosphere – this model suggests we’ve got an extra 0.25°C in the pipeline due to permafrost.

(My emphases.)

(Mods, please move this to science, if that is the appropriate thread.)
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

Bruce Steele

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2013, 06:17:44 AM »
Wili, Also from  Open Mind  was a link attributed to Caldiera.                                                                https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=forums&srcid=MDE0NTY3NTk0NzY2MTMxMzQ4MjEBMTgwMTQzMDc0MzY5MDkyODI5NDgBLTFNOGdQajF4YkVKATQBAXYy


Same article. I was wondering what methane ppb would increase to? 68-508 pg carbon is a large spread but what would the methane range look like? Are we already on schedule with the recent increases?

Artful Dodger

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2013, 07:49:26 AM »
Hi wili

Carbon emissions from permafrost are expected to peak around 2100, then trail off slowly until 2200, by which time they are as bad as they are now.

Here's the Money$hot from a Climate Progress blog post on the topic:



NSIDC bombshell: Thawing permafrost feedback will turn Arctic from carbon sink to source in the 2020s, releasing 100 billion tons of carbon by 2100.

The paper cited is this: (pdf here)

Schaefer, Kevin, et al. "Amount and timing of permafrost carbon release in response to climate warming." Tellus B 63.2 (2011): 165-180.
Cheers!
Lodger

wili

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2013, 01:40:54 PM »
Thanks for the added info and links. It is my (feeble) understanding that it is uncertain exactly how much of the carbon released from permafrost will be as methane rather than CO2. The MacDougal study only considers CO2.

"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

Artful Dodger

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2013, 12:26:14 PM »
It is my understanding that it is uncertain exactly how much of the carbon released from permafrost will be as methane rather than CO2. The MacDougal study only considers CO2.

Hi wili,

Rather, these studies treat ALL released carbon to be in the form of CO2. So these studies will be right in the long term, but will miss important positive feedbacks over the mid-term (say, 20 year time horizon).

That seems to be the one most important for human society, doesn't it?
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Lodger

AbruptSLR

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2014, 03:49:54 AM »
The linked reference provides information on new permafrost behavior that the modelers need to consider:


Martin A. Briggs, Michelle A. Walvoord, Jeffrey M. McKenzie, Clifford I. Voss, Frederick D. Day-Lewis and John W. Lane , (2014), "New permafrost is forming around shrinking Arctic lakes, but will it last?", Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1002/2014GL059251

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014GL059251/abstract?

Abstract: "Widespread lake shrinkage in cold regions has been linked to climate warming and permafrost thaw. Permafrost aggradation, however, has been observed within the margins of recently receded lakes, in seeming contradiction of climate warming. Here permafrost aggradation dynamics are examined at Twelvemile Lake, a retreating lake in interior Alaska. Observations reveal patches of recently formed permafrost within the dried lake margin, colocated with discrete bands of willow shrub. We test ecological succession, which alters shading, infiltration, and heat transport, as the driver of aggradation using numerical simulation of variably saturated groundwater flow and heat transport with phase change (i.e., freeze-thaw). Simulations support permafrost development under current climatic conditions, but only when net effects of vegetation on soil conditions are incorporated, thus pointing to the role of ecological succession. Furthermore, model results indicate that permafrost aggradation is transitory with further climate warming, as new permafrost thaws within seven decades."
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2014, 01:07:54 AM »
The linked paper with an open access pdf, indicates that most permafrost degradation estimates have ignored the Tibetan Plateau's permafrost.  Considering this additional carbon source, "…the present study suggested that the permafrost organic carbon pools of Northern Hemisphere should be updated from 1672 to 1739 Pg."

Mu, C., Zhang, T., Peng, X., Cao, B., Zhang, X., Wu, Q., and Cheng, G.: The organic carbon pool of permafrost regions on the Qinghai–Xizang (Tibetan) Plateau, The Cryosphere Discuss., 8, 5015-5033, doi:10.5194/tcd-8-5015-2014, 2014

http://www.the-cryosphere-discuss.net/8/5015/2014/tcd-8-5015-2014.pdf

Abstract: "Presently, Northern Circumpolar Soil Carbon Database was not involved permafrost organic carbon storage on the Qinghai–Xizang (Tibetan) Plateau (QXP). Here we reported a new estimation of soil organic carbon (SOC) pools of the permafrost regions on the QXP at different layers from the top 1 to 25 m depth using a total of 706 soil profiles. The SOC pools were estimated to be 15.29 Pg for the 0–1 m, 4.84 Pg for the 1–2 m, 3.89 Pg for the 2–3 m and 43.19 Pg for the layer of 3–25 m. The percentage (64.3%) of SOC storage in deep layer (3–25 m) on the QXP was larger than that (38.8%) in the northern circumpolar permafrost region. In total, permafrost region on the QXP contains approximately 67.2 Pg SOC, of which approximately 47.08 Pg (70.1%) stores in perennially frozen soils and deposits. The present study suggested that the permafrost organic carbon pools of Northern Hemisphere should be updated from 1672 to 1739 Pg."
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morganism

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2014, 12:28:28 AM »
Looks like there is no noticeable increase in permafrost release in 2012, from the CARVE project

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=4376

LRC1962

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2015, 05:14:17 PM »
Here is a 3 part interview with Dr Natalia Shakhova.



In it she describes what is happening both with the permafrost and the Arctic shelf. Some interesting points. The permafrost in Siberia had already risen from -17C to -7 before the the more resent events had occurred in the Arctic. Note: regardless of it still being below zero that is a lot of heat going into the permafrost before the last major up swing in temps have even started. She believes that there are major deposits of free methane (not hydrates) below the permafrost just waiting for an avenue to get to the atmosphere. Now Dr. Richard Allyn and others have pointed out recently that because of the physics hydrates that belches will not occur and that it will come as a slow release. If Dr Natalia Shakhova is right than major belches could actually occur with potential total release of 50 gts from what I understood and that is not including all the release of the hydrates. Another point is that the permafrost is melting far faster then anyone predicted even 10yrs ago, but when questioned about it would not say because she has no idea other than what they though they knew 10 yrs ago no longer applies.
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2015, 12:57:25 AM »
The linked paper says that there is so much concern about permafrost degradation that they now have to write papers to advise young scientists to go into this field:

http://www.the-cryosphere-discuss.net/9/1209/2015/tcd-9-1209-2015.html
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LRC1962

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2015, 01:14:02 AM »
Unfortunately we seem to have to leave it to the Russians to find things out. Canada would be a great place to do research. Unfortunately all papers and communications by any scientist in Canada have to be cleared by the Can. gov. before release (and they are very much against anything indicating the Arctic is melting) or they will be prosecuted. A true travesty and abuse of power IMHO.
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2015, 12:41:54 AM »
I have read that permafrost degradation also produces significant amounts of nitrous oxide; so I hope that the recent acceleration of nitrous oxide concentration at Mauna Loa indicated in the attached plot (with data through Feb 21 2015) does not indicate that the degradation of permafrost is moving into its main phase:
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2015, 01:25:15 AM »
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.x


http://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
doi:10.1038/ngeo803

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v3/n5/abs/ngeo803.html

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."
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2015, 04:29:42 AM »
Looking at the attached NOAA map of surface temperature anomalies for January 2015 it is not difficult to believe that permafrost degradation is accelerating:
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
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RaenorShine

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2015, 10:43:07 AM »
Excellent summary of current methane release discussion has been posted by robertscribbler

https://robertscribbler.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/cause-for-appropriate-concern-over-arctic-methane-overburden-plumes-eruptions-and-large-ocean-craters/

Concern Over Catastrophic Methane Release — Overburden, Plumes, Eruptions, and Large Ocean Craters

Depending on who you listen to, it’s the end of the world, or it isn’t. A loud and lively debate that springs up in the media every time a new sign of potential methane instability or apparent increasing emission from methane stores is reported by Arctic observational science.

A really long blog post but well worth reading (and rereading) in full, with primers on the various release mechanisms and future release possibilities.

AbruptSLR

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2015, 09:46:34 PM »
Here is another reference on modeling permafrost degradation (& I do not think that this is the final answer to the question of how much GHG will be emitted with continued global warming):

Chadburn, S. E., Burke, E. J., Essery, R. L. H., Boike, J., Langer, M., Heikenfeld, M., Cox, P. M., and Friedlingstein, P.  (2015), "Impact of model developments on present and future simulations of permafrost in a global land-surface model", The Cryosphere Discuss., 9, 1965-2012, doi:10.5194/tcd-9-1965-2015.

http://www.the-cryosphere-discuss.net/9/1965/2015/tcd-9-1965-2015.html

Abstract: "There is a large amount of organic carbon stored in permafrost in the northern high latitudes, which may become vulnerable to microbial decomposition under future climate warming. In order to estimate this potential carbon-climate feedback it is necessary to correctly simulate the physical dynamics of permafrost within global Earth System Models (ESMs) and to determine the rate at which it will thaw.

Additional new processes within JULES, the land surface scheme of the UK ESM (UKESM), include a representation of organic soils, moss and bedrock, and a modification to the snow scheme. The impact of a higher vertical soil resolution and deeper soil column is also considered.

Evaluation against a large group of sites shows the annual cycle of soil temperatures is approximately 25 % too large in the standard JULES version, but this error is corrected by the model improvements, in particular by deeper soil, organic soils, moss and the modified snow scheme. Comparing with active layer monitoring sites shows that the active layer is on average just over 1 m too deep in the standard model version, and this bias is reduced by 70 cm in the improved version. Increasing the soil vertical resolution allows the full range of active layer depths to be simulated, where by contrast with a poorly resolved soil, at least 50% of the permafrost area has a maximum thaw depth at the centre of the bottom soil layer. Thus all the model modifications are seen to improve the permafrost simulations.

Historical permafrost area corresponds fairly well to observations in all simulations, covering an area between 14–19 million km2. Simulations under two future climate scenarios show a reduced sensitivity of permafrost degradation to temperature, with the near-surface permafrost lost per degree of warming reduced from 1.5 million km2 °C−1 in the standard version of JULES to between 1.1 and 1.2 million km2 °C−1 in the new model version. However, the near-surface permafrost area is still projected to approximately half by the end of the 21st century under the RCP8.5 scenario."
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2016, 03:53:34 PM »
The linked (open access) reference demonstrates that increases in GMST will dominate future increases in Arctic soil heat content and that changes in snow extent will play a secondary role.  Thus with Arctic Amplification we can expect the permafrost to thaw as GMST increases:

Shi, X., Troy, T. J., and Lettenmaier, D. P.: Effects of pan-Arctic snow cover and air temperature changes on soil heat content, The Cryosphere Discuss., doi:10.5194/tc-2016-70, in review, 2016.


http://www.the-cryosphere-discuss.net/tc-2016-70/

Abstract. Soil heat content (SHC) provides an estimate of the integrated effect of changes in the land surface energy balance. It considers the specific heat capacity, soil temperature, and phase changes of soil moisture as a function of depth. In contrast, soil temperature provides a much more limited view of land surface energy flux changes. This is particularly important at high latitudes, which have and are undergoing surface energy flux changes as a result of changes in seasonal variations of snow cover extent (SCE) and hence surface albedo changes, among other factors. Using the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) land surface model forced with gridded climate observations, we simulate spatial and temporal variations of SCE and SHC over the pan-Arctic land region for the last half-century. On the basis of the SCE trends derived from NOAA satellite observations in 5° latitude bands from April through June for the period 1972–2006, we define a snow covered sensitivity zone (SCSZ), a snow covered non-sensitivity zone (SCNZ), and a non-snow covered zone (NSCZ) for North America and Eurasia. We then explore long-term trends in SHC, SCE, and surface air temperature (SAT) and their corresponding correlations in NSCZ, SCSZ and SCNZ for both North America and Eurasia. We find that snow cover downtrends have a significant impact on SHC changes in SCSZ for North America and Eurasia from April through June. SHC changes in the SCSZ over North America are dominated by downtrends in SCE rather than increasing SAT. Over Eurasia, increasing SAT more strongly affects SHC than in North America. Overall, increasing SAT during late spring and early summer is the dominant factor that has resulted in SHC changes over the pan-Arctic domain, whereas reduced SCE plays a secondary role that is only important in the SCSZ.
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #17 on: April 06, 2016, 11:47:46 PM »
It maybe that the linked (open source) reference indicates that the increase of Arctic biogenic volatile emissions with warming might serve as a negative feedback:

Magnus Kramshøj, Ida Vedel-Petersen, Michelle Schollert, Åsmund Rinnan, Josephine Nymand, Helge Ro-Poulsen & Riikka Rinnan (2016) "Large increases in Arctic biogenic volatile emissions are a direct effect of warming", Nature Geoscience, doi:10.1038/ngeo2692


http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo2692.html

Abstract: "Biogenic volatile organic compounds are reactive gases that can contribute to atmospheric aerosol formation. Their emission from vegetation is dependent on temperature and light availability. Increasing temperature, changing cloud cover and shifting composition of vegetation communities can be expected to affect emissions in the Arctic, where the ongoing climate changes are particularly severe. Here we present biogenic volatile organic compound emission data from Arctic tundra exposed to six years of experimental warming or reduced sunlight treatment in a randomized block design. By separately assessing the emission response of the whole ecosystem, plant shoots and soil in four measurements covering the growing season, we have identified that warming increased the emissions directly rather than via a change in the plant biomass and species composition. Warming caused a 260% increase in total emission rate for the ecosystem and a 90% increase in emission rates for plants, while having no effect on soil emissions. Compared to the control, reduced sunlight decreased emissions by 69% for the ecosystem, 61–65% for plants and 78% for soil. The detected strong emission response is considerably higher than observed at more southern latitudes, emphasizing the high temperature sensitivity of ecosystem processes in the changing Arctic."


Edit: Now that I think about it, depending on the timing of any additional cloud formation initiated by the BVOCs, these findings might indicate a positive feedback mechanism (or not).
« Last Edit: April 07, 2016, 10:07:39 AM by AbruptSLR »
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2016, 04:56:38 PM »
The linked (open access) reference uses models and indicates that carbon emissions from the permafrost will be worse than previously projected:

Mikel González-Eguino & Marc B. Neumann (2016), "Significant implications of permafrost thawing for climate change control", Climatic Change, pp 1-8, DOI: 10.1007/s10584-016-1666-5


http://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-016-1666-5


Abstract: "Large amounts of carbon are stored as permafrost within the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. As permafrost thaws due to climate warming, carbon dioxide and methane are released. Recent studies indicate that the pool of carbon susceptible to future thaw is higher than was previously thought and that more carbon could be released by 2100, even under low emission pathways. We use an integrated model of the climate and the economy to study how including these new estimates influence the control of climate change to levels that will likely keep the temperature increase below 2 °C (radiative forcing of 2.6 Wm−2). According to our simulations, the fossil fuel and industrial CO2 emissions need to peak 5–10 years earlier and the carbon budget needs to be reduced by 6–17 % to offset this additional source of warming. The required increase in carbon price implies a 6–21 % higher mitigation cost to society compared to a situation where emissions from permafrost are not considered. Including other positive climate feedbacks, currently not accounted for in integrated assessment models, could further increase these numbers."
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #19 on: April 14, 2016, 05:10:29 PM »
The linked (open access) reference indicates that carbon emissions from northern hemispheric permafrost thawing will be significant (3 to 54% of anthropogenic emissions).  See the attached image of the projected annual carbon emissions from northern permafrost until 2300 showing a peak rate of emissions between 2050 and 2100 (depending on the RCP scenario assumed):

MacDougall, A. H. and Knutti, R.: Projecting the release of carbon from permafrost soils using a perturbed parameter ensemble modelling approach, Biogeosciences, 13, 2123-2136, doi:10.5194/bg-13-2123-2016, 2016

http://www.biogeosciences.net/13/2123/2016/

Abstract. The soils of the northern hemispheric permafrost region are estimated to contain 1100 to 1500 Pg of carbon. A substantial fraction of this carbon has been frozen and therefore protected from microbial decay for millennia. As anthropogenic climate warming progresses much of this permafrost is expected to thaw. Here we conduct perturbed model experiments on a climate model of intermediate complexity, with an improved permafrost carbon module, to estimate with formal uncertainty bounds the release of carbon from permafrost soils by the year 2100 and 2300 CE. We estimate that by year 2100 the permafrost region may release between 56 (13 to 118) Pg C under Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 2.6 and 102 (27 to 199) Pg C under RCP 8.5, with substantially more to be released under each scenario by the year 2300. Our analysis suggests that the two parameters that contribute most to the uncertainty in the release of carbon from permafrost soils are the size of the non-passive fraction of the permafrost carbon pool and the equilibrium climate sensitivity. A subset of 25 model variants are integrated 8000 years into the future under continued RCP forcing. Under the moderate RCP 4.5 forcing a remnant near-surface permafrost region persists in the high Arctic, eventually developing a new permafrost carbon pool. Overall our simulations suggest that the permafrost carbon cycle feedback to climate change will make a significant contribution to climate change over the next centuries and millennia, releasing a quantity of carbon 3 to 54 % of the cumulative anthropogenic total.
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #20 on: July 18, 2017, 04:39:05 PM »
The linked reference provides a paleo-window into the behavior of the interior of Siberia during past interglacials.  I am concerned that as we continue to warm globally, the interior of Siberia will warm at a much faster rate than most of the rest of the world; which may be bad news with regards to permafrost degradation in this region this century.  Such paleo-studies can help to better calibrate our modeling of permafrost carbon feedback:

Ashastina, K., Schirrmeister, L., Fuchs, M., and Kienast, F.: Palaeoclimate characteristics in interior Siberia of MIS 6–2: first insights from the Batagay permafrost mega-thaw slump in the Yana Highlands, Clim. Past, 13, 795-818, https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-13-795-2017, 2017.

http://www.clim-past.net/13/795/2017/
http://www.clim-past.net/13/795/2017/cp-13-795-2017.pdf

Abstract. Syngenetic permafrost deposits formed extensively on and around the arising Beringian subcontinent during the Late Pleistocene sea level lowstands. Syngenetic deposition implies that all material, both mineral and organic, freezes parallel to sedimentation and remains frozen until degradation of the permafrost. Permafrost is therefore a unique archive of Late Pleistocene palaeoclimate. Most studied permafrost outcrops are situated in the coastal lowlands of northeastern Siberia; inland sections are, however, scarcely available. Here, we describe the stratigraphical, cryolithological, and geochronological characteristics of a permafrost sequence near Batagay in the Siberian Yana Highlands, the interior of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia), Russia, with focus on the Late Pleistocene Yedoma ice complex (YIC). The recently formed Batagay mega-thaw slump exposes permafrost deposits to a depth of up to 80 m and gives insight into a climate record close to Verkhoyansk, which has the most severe continental climate in the Northern Hemisphere. Geochronological dating (optically stimulated luminescence, OSL, and 14C ages) and stratigraphic implications delivered a temporal frame from the Middle Pleistocene to the Holocene for our sedimentological interpretations and also revealed interruptions in the deposition. The sequence of lithological units indicates a succession of several distinct climate phases: a Middle Pleistocene ice complex indicates cold stage climate. Then, ice wedge growth stopped due to highly increased sedimentation rates and eventually a rise in temperature. Full interglacial climate conditions existed during accumulation of an organic-rich layer – plant macrofossils reflected open forest vegetation existing under dry conditions during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5e. The Late Pleistocene YIC (MIS 4–MIS 2) suggests severe cold-stage climate conditions. No alas deposits, potentially indicating thermokarst processes, were detected at the site. A detailed comparison of the permafrost deposits exposed in the Batagay thaw slump with well-studied permafrost sequences, both coastal and inland, is made to highlight common features and differences in their formation processes and palaeoclimatic histories. Fluvial and lacustrine influence is temporarily common in the majority of permafrost exposures, but has to be excluded for the Batagay sequence. We interpret the characteristics of permafrost deposits at this location as a result of various climatically induced processes that are partly seasonally controlled. Nival deposition might have been dominant during winter time, whereas proluvial and aeolian deposition could have prevailed during the snowmelt period and the dry summer season.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2017, 09:43:25 PM by AbruptSLR »
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #21 on: August 03, 2017, 06:14:08 PM »
The linked reference indicates that reduced plant nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P) concentrations observed in plants subjected to accelerated growth associated with climate warming of a permafrost region in Tibet, means that those who were hoping that carbon emissions associated with permafrost degradation would be mitigated by increased carbon absorption due to accelerated plant growth are out of luck:

Fei Li, Yunfeng Peng, Susan M. Natali, Kelong Chen, Tianfeng Han, Guibiao Yang, Jinzhi Ding, Dianye Zhang, Guanqin Wang, Jun Wang, Jianchun Yu, Futing Liu & Yuanhe Yang (2 August 2017), "Warming effects on permafrost ecosystem carbon fluxes associated with plant nutrients", Ecology Ecological Society of America, DOI: 10.1002/ecy.1975

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ecy.1975/abstract?utm_content=buffer9ccd4&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Abstract: "Large uncertainties exist in carbon (C)-climate feedback in permafrost regions, partly due to an insufficient understanding of warming effects on nutrient availabilities and their subsequent impacts on vegetation C sequestration. Although a warming climate may promote a substantial release of soil C to the atmosphere, a warming-induced increase in soil nutrient availability may enhance plant productivity, thus offsetting C loss from microbial respiration. Here, we present evidence that the positive temperature effect on carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes may be weakened by reduced plant nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P) concentrations in a Tibetan permafrost ecosystem. Although experimental warming initially enhanced ecosystem CO2 uptake, the increased rate disappeared after the period of peak plant growth during the early growing season, even though soil moisture was not a limiting factor in this swamp meadow ecosystem. We observed that warming did not significantly affect soil extractable N or P during the period of peak growth, but decreased both N and P concentrations in the leaves of dominant plant species, likely caused by accelerated plant senescence in the warmed plots. The attenuated warming effect on CO2 assimilation during the late growing season was associated with lowered leaf N and P concentrations. These findings suggest that warming-mediated nutrient changes may not always benefit ecosystem C uptake in permafrost regions, making our ability to predict the C balance in these warming-sensitive ecosystems more challenging than previously thought."
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jai mitchell

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #22 on: August 28, 2017, 06:30:01 AM »
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/08/23/climate/alaska-permafrost-thawing.html

Estimates vary on how much carbon is currently released from thawing permafrost worldwide, but by one calculation emissions over the rest of the century could average about 1.5 billion tons a year, or about the same as current annual emissions from fossil-fuel burning in the United States.
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #23 on: August 28, 2017, 07:15:56 PM »
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/08/23/climate/alaska-permafrost-thawing.html

Estimates vary on how much carbon is currently released from thawing permafrost worldwide, but by one calculation emissions over the rest of the century could average about 1.5 billion tons a year, or about the same as current annual emissions from fossil-fuel burning in the United States.

Maybe research like this will give AR6 confidence to give reasonable values for carbon emissions from permafrost degradation:

S. E. Chadburn, E. J. Burke, P. M. Cox, P. Friedlingstein, G. Hugelius & S. Westermann (2017), “An observation-based constraint on permafrost loss as a function of global warming”, Nature Climate Change, Volume: 7, Pages: 340–344, doi:10.1038/nclimate3262

http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v7/n5/full/nclimate3262.html
&
https://www.nature.com/articles/nclimate3262.epdf


Abstract: “Permafrost, which covers 15 million km2 of the land surface, is one of the components of the Earth system that is most sensitive to warming. Loss of permafrost would radically change high-latitude hydrology and biogeochemical cycling, and could therefore provide very significant feedbacks on climate change The latest climate models all predict warming of high-latitude soils and thus thawing of permafrost under future climate change, but with widely varying magnitudes of permafrost thaw. Here we show that in each of the models, their present-day spatial distribution of permafrost and air temperature can be used to infer the sensitivity of permafrost to future global warming. Using the same approach for the observed permafrost distribution and air temperature, we estimate a sensitivity of permafrost area loss to global mean warming at stabilization of ~ 4 million km2 °C−1 (1σ confidence), which is around 20% higher than previous studies. Our method facilitates an assessment for COP21 climate change targets: if the climate is stabilized at 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, we estimate that the permafrost area would eventually be reduced by over 40%. Stabilizing at 1.5 °C rather than 2 °C would save approximately 2 million km2 of permafrost.”
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wili

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #24 on: September 11, 2017, 07:59:29 PM »
We will now inevitably pass the crucial tipping point where cold regions ecosystems will be almost all lost, even under the most optimistic (ie unrealistic) assumptions about emissions.

"Even with the most optimistic CO2 emissions scenario (Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 2.6) we predict a 72% reduction in the current periglacial climate realm by 2050 in our climatically sensitive northern Europe study area. These impacts are projected to be especially severe in high-latitude continental interiors. We further predict that by the end of the twenty-first century active periglacial LSPs will exist only at high elevations. These results forecast a future tipping point in the operation of cold-region LSP, and predict fundamental landscape-level modifications in ground conditions"

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-00669-3
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Thomas Barlow

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #25 on: September 24, 2017, 03:58:55 PM »
Abstract: “Permafrost, which covers 15 million km2 of the land surface, is one of the components of the Earth system that is most sensitive to warming. Loss of permafrost would radically change high-latitude hydrology and biogeochemical cycling, and could therefore provide very significant feedbacks on climate change The latest climate models all predict warming of high-latitude soils and thus thawing of permafrost under future climate change, but with widely varying magnitudes of permafrost thaw. Here we show that in each of the models, their present-day spatial distribution of permafrost and air temperature can be used to infer the sensitivity of permafrost to future global warming. Using the same approach for the observed permafrost distribution and air temperature, we estimate a sensitivity of permafrost area loss to global mean warming at stabilization of ~ 4 million km2 °C−1 (1σ confidence), which is around 20% higher than previous studies. Our method facilitates an assessment for COP21 climate change targets: if the climate is stabilized at 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, we estimate that the permafrost area would eventually be reduced by over 40%. Stabilizing at 1.5 °C rather than 2 °C would save approximately 2 million km2 of permafrost.”
There will be massive natural carbon sequestration as permafrost and Arctic Ocean beds warm, that, in its cooling effect, far exceeds the warming effect of natural CO2 and methane release to atmosphere.
https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,12.msg125558.html#msg125558

AbruptSLR

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #26 on: September 24, 2017, 05:01:16 PM »
It is very clear that GHG emissions from thermokarst lakes (including those associated with glacier meltwater) will play a major role in determining the net feedback from permafrost degradation:

Zeli Tan, Qianlai Zhuang, Narasinha J. Shurpali,Maija E. Marushchak, Christina Biasi, Werner Eugster & Katey Walter Anthony (14 September 2017), "Modeling CO2 emissions from Arctic lakes: Model development and site-level study", JAMES, DOI: 10.1002/2017MS001028 

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2017MS001028/full

Abstract: "Recent studies indicated that Arctic lakes play an important role in receiving, processing, and storing organic carbon exported from terrestrial ecosystems. To quantify the contribution of Arctic lakes to the global carbon cycle, we developed a one-dimensional process-based Arctic Lake Biogeochemistry Model (ALBM) that explicitly simulates the dynamics of organic and inorganic carbon in Arctic lakes. By realistically modeling water mixing, carbon biogeochemistry, and permafrost carbon loading, the model can reproduce the seasonal variability of CO2 fluxes from the study Arctic lakes. The simulated area-weighted CO2 fluxes from yedoma thermokarst lakes, nonyedoma thermokarst lakes, and glacial lakes are 29.5, 13.0, and 21.4 g C m−2 yr−1, respectively, close to the observed values (31.2, 17.2, and 16.5 ± 7.7 g C m−2 yr−1, respectively). The simulations show that the high CO2 fluxes from yedoma thermokarst lakes are stimulated by the biomineralization of mobilized labile organic carbon from thawing yedoma permafrost. The simulations also imply that the relative contribution of glacial lakes to the global carbon cycle could be the largest because of their much larger surface area and high biomineralization and carbon loading. According to the model, sunlight-induced organic carbon degradation is more important for shallow nonyedoma thermokarst lakes but its overall contribution to the global carbon cycle could be limited. Overall, the ALBM can simulate the whole-lake carbon balance of Arctic lakes, a difficult task for field and laboratory experiments and other biogeochemistry models."
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #27 on: October 03, 2017, 05:19:15 PM »
Perhaps I am reading too much into the findings of the linked reference; however, it seems (to me) to indicate that shortly after the Holocene Optimum, there must have been major wildfires around Eastern Siberia circa 5900±300 years ago to have produced so much soot black carbon SBC.  Which of course makes me concerned that we may soon again see more wildfire produced SBC around Siberia and other tundra regions:

Joan A. Salvadó, Lisa Bröder, August Andersson, Igor P. Semiletov & Örjan Gustafsson (2 October 2017), "Release of Black Carbon from Thawing Permafrost Estimated by Sequestration Fluxes in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf Recipient", Global Biogeochemical Cycles, DOI: 10.1002/2017GB005693

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2017GB005693/abstract?utm_content=buffer7f28c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Abstract: "Black carbon (BC) plays an important role in carbon burial in marine sediments globally. Yet, the sequestration of BC in the Arctic Ocean is poorly understood. Here, we assess the concentrations, fluxes and sources of soot BC (SBC) -the most refractory component of BC- in sediments from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS), the World's largest shelf sea system. SBC concentrations in the contemporary shelf sediments range from 0.1-2.1 mg·g-1·dw, corresponding to 2-12% of total organic carbon. The 210Pb-derived fluxes of SBC (0.42-11 g·m-2·yr-1) are higher or in the same range as fluxes reported for marine surface sediments closer to anthropogenic emissions. The total burial flux of SBC in the ESAS (~4,000 Gg·yr-1) illustrates the great importance of this Arctic shelf in marine sequestration of SBC. The radiocarbon signal of the SBC shows more depleted yet also more uniform signatures (-721 to -896‰; average of -774±62‰) than of the non-SBC pool (-304 to -728‰; average of -491±163‰), suggesting that SBC is coming from an, on average, 5900±300 years older and more specific source than the non-SBC pool. We estimate that the atmospheric BC input to the ESAS is negligible (~0.6% of the SBC burial flux). Statistical source apportionment modeling suggests that the ESAS sedimentary SBC is remobilized by thawing of two permafrost carbon (PF/C) systems: surface soil permafrost (topsoil/PF; 25±8%) and Pleistocene ice complex deposits (ICD/PF; 75±8%). The SBC contribution to the total mobilized permafrost carbon (PF/C) increases with increasing distance from the coast (from 5 to 14%), indicating that the SBC is more recalcitrant than other forms of translocated PF/C. These results elucidate for the first time the key role of permafrost thaw in the transport of SBC to the Arctic Ocean. With ongoing global warming, these findings have implications for the biogeochemical carbon cycle, increasing the size of this refractory carbon pool in the Arctic Ocean."
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #28 on: October 06, 2017, 10:01:17 PM »
The linked reference indicates that while the relationships are complex, under the circumstances sunlight and stimulate certain microbes to accelerate CO₂ emissions from degrading permafrost:

Ward, et al (2017) "Photochemical alteration of organic carbon draining permafrost soils shifts microbial metabolic pathways and stimulates respiration", Nature Communications, doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-00759-2

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-00759-2
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CDN_dude

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #29 on: November 16, 2017, 03:16:16 AM »
In this video Miriam Jones of USGS provides a good overview of some research on methane and carbon release from permafrost thaw, touching on thermokarst lakes and also how rapid the release of carbon is once thaw is underway. A very clear and straightforward presentation with Q&A:

TerryM

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #30 on: November 16, 2017, 04:46:41 PM »
In this video Miriam Jones of USGS provides a good overview of some research on methane and carbon release from permafrost thaw, touching on thermokarst lakes and also how rapid the release of carbon is once thaw is underway. A very clear and straightforward presentation with Q&A:


Excellent link!
While not exactly on topic:
The sudden drop & rebound in CH4 beginning with the Younger Dryas, (~min 34) was surprising, and may not bode well for a warmer future. In that instance at least the CH4 emissions turned on and off with cooling, then warming, following temperature change with a frightening rapidity. 
Terry
P.S.  the W5 TV program that followed was also informative.

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Re: Modelling permafrost carbon feedback
« Reply #31 on: November 17, 2017, 04:31:23 PM »
Nice talk. Fig.1 from the article mentioned above is shown below. Unfortunately its chronology appears to be flawed.

Permafrost thawing as a possible source of abrupt carbon release at the onset of the Bølling/Allerød
Peter Köhler, Gregor Knorr & Edouard Bard
Nature Comm 2014 https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms6520 open source 27 follow-up cites

https://images.nature.com/m685/nature-assets/ncomms/2014/141120/ncomms6520/images_hires/ncomms6520-f1.jpg

One of the most abrupt and yet unexplained past rises in atmospheric CO2 (>10 p.p.m.v. in two centuries) occurred in quasi-synchrony with abrupt northern hemispheric warming into the Bølling/Allerød, ~14,600 years ago.

We suggest, in line with observations of atmospheric CH4 and terrigenous biomarkers, that thawing permafrost in high northern latitudes could have been the source of carbon, possibly with contribution from flooding of the Siberian continental shelf during meltwater pulse 1A. Our findings highlight the potential of the permafrost carbon reservoir to modulate abrupt climate changes via greenhouse-gas feedbacks.

Changes in the global carbon cycle during the last deglaciation are so far not completely understood. However, based on the data and model-based interpretation, the emerging picture indicates that the rise in atmospheric CO2 of ~45 p.p.m.v. during the first half of the deglaciation (~1 p.p.m.v. per century) was probably fuelled by the release of old, 13C- and 14C-depleted deep ocean carbon.

Atmospheric CH4 rose by 150 p.p.b.v. between 18.5 and 14.6 kyr BP and then by the same amount again, but within centuries, around the onset of the B/A. The changes in both greenhouse gases (GHG) imply that a ratio of both changes ΔCH4/ΔCO2 is a factor of five larger around 14.6 kyr BP than during the previous four millennia.

Radiocarbon calibration uncertainties during the last deglaciation: Insights from new floating tree-ring chronologies
Florian Adolphi et al
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277379117300641

Radiocarbon dating is the most commonly used chronological tool in archaeological and environmental sciences dealing with the past 50,000 years, making the radiocarbon calibration curve one of the most important records in paleosciences.

For the past 12,560 years, the radiocarbon calibration curve is constrained by high quality tree-ring data. Prior to this, however, its uncertainties increase rapidly due to the absence of suitable tree-ring 14C data. Here, we present new high-resolution 14C measurements from 3 floating tree-ring chronologies from the last deglaciation.

By using combined information from the current radiocarbon calibration curve and ice core 10Be records, we are able to absolutely date these chronologies at high confidence. We show that our data imply large 14C-age variations during the Bølling chronozone (Greenland Interstadial 1e) – a period that is currently characterized by a long 14C-age plateau in the most recent IntCal13 calibration record. We demonstrate that this lack of structure in IntCal13 may currently lead to erroneous calibrated ages by up to 500 years.

The resulting 14C records are in broad agreement with IntCal13 and its underlying raw datasets, even though we find significant differences to the Tahiti corals by Durand 2013. Independent of their exact absolute age, the tree-ring 14C records indicate substantial 14C-age variations between 14,000 and 14,700 cal BP e a period that is currently characterized by a long 14C age plateau in IntCal13.

We demonstrate that the lack of these variations in IntCal13 can lead to erroneous age calibration by up to 500 years during the onset of the Bølling chronozone around 14,700 cal BP. On the other hand, the 14C-age variations indicated by our floating tree-ring chronologies, can aid in obtaining a higher accuracy and precision of calibrated 14C ages during this period, which is currently also limited by the long age plateau in IntCal13.

Given that the Tahiti coral record also disagrees with most other 14C datasets at that time, we suggest that it is more likely that reservoir/archive specific effects in the coral data are the cause for the offset between both datasets. Consequently, this would contradict the conclusions of Köhler 2014 who inferred a release of old carbon from permafrost thawing as the reason for the rapid decline in delta14C seen in the coral record around 14,600 cal BP.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2017, 01:57:48 PM by A-Team »