EGU21-11121, updated on 26 Feb 2024
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Carbon degradation in Subarctic organic permafrost (peat plateaus) after thawing – what constraints CO2 and CH4 production?

Sigrid Trier Kjær1, Nora Nedkvitne1, Sebastian Westermann2, Inge Althuizen3, and Peter Dörsch1
Sigrid Trier Kjær et al.
  • 1Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway (
  • 2Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  • 3NORCE Norwegian Research Centre, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway

Rapid warming in Subarctic areas releases large amounts of frozen carbon which can potentially result in large CO2 and CH4 emissions to the atmosphere. In Northern Norway vast amount of carbon are stored in peat plateaus, but these landscape elements have been found to decrease laterally since at least the 1950s. Peat plateaus are very sensitive to climate change as the permafrost is relatively warm compared to permafrost found in the arctic. So far, only limited information is available about potential degradation kinetics of organic carbon in these ecosystems. We sampled organic matter from depth profiles along a well-documented chronosequence of permafrost degradation in Northern Norway. After thawing over-night, we incubated permafrost and active layer for up to 3 months at 10°C. To determine factors constraining degradation, we measured gas kinetics (O2, CO2, CH4) under different conditions (oxic/anoxic, loosely packed/stirred suspensions in water, with altered DOC content and nutrient amendments) and related them to pH, DOC, element (C, N, P, S) and δ13C and δ15N signatures of the peat. Organic matter degradation was strongly inhibited in the absence of oxygen. By contrast, CH4 production or release seemed to be related to soil depth rather than incubation conditions and was found to be highest in samples from the transition zone between active layer and permafrost. Degradation rates and their dependencies on peat characteristics will be compared with permafrost characteristics along the chronosequence and additional experiments exploring the role of O2, DOC and other nutrients for carbon degradation will be discussed.

How to cite: Kjær, S. T., Nedkvitne, N., Westermann, S., Althuizen, I., and Dörsch, P.: Carbon degradation in Subarctic organic permafrost (peat plateaus) after thawing – what constraints CO2 and CH4 production?, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-11121,, 2021.


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