EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Volatile carbon emissions from a degrading permafrost peatland

Yi Jiao1, Cleo Davie-Martin1,2, Magnus Kramshøj1,2, Casper Christiansen1, Hanna Lee3,4, Inge Althuizen4, and Riikka Rinnan1,2
Yi Jiao et al.
  • 1Terrestrial Ecology Section, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen
  • 2Center for Permafrost (CENPERM), Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen
  • 3Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway
  • 4NORCE Norwegian Research Centre, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway

Permafrost in the north Polar Regions stores more than 1,500 Pg of organic carbon, which is nearly twice as much as the atmospheric carbon pool. As the Arctic region is experiencing unprecedented warming, accelerated decomposition in permafrost is potentially switching it to a hotspot of carbon emissions. In addition to the widely studies carbon dioxide and methane, permafrost may also be a source of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs), a reactive group of trace gases which have so far received much less attention. BVOCs can prolong the lifetime of methane through the depletion of hydroxyl radicals, contribute to ozone formation, and lead to the formation of secondary organic aerosol, and thus exert significant impact on climate forcing, especially in unpolluted Arctic region.

Here, we conducted in situ measurements of soil BVOC emissions on an actively degrading permafrost peatland during a growing season. We compared emissions along a gradient of landscape units from soil palsa and vegetated palsa to thaw slump, thaw pond and vegetated thaw pond. BVOC samples were collected onto absorbent cartridges using dynamic enclosure chamber method, and then analyzed with a gas chromatograph coupled with a mass spectrometer (GC/MS), based upon which the emission rates were calculated.

Results suggested that all landscapes units across the peatland showed net emissions of BVOCs during the summertime. Major BVOC groups included monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, isoprene, hydrocarbons, methanol, acetone, other oxygenated VOCs and other compounds, and these groups were present in all landscape units. All VOC groups also exhibited seasonal and spatial variations across the different sampling months and landscape units. For example, the actively degrading thaw slump showed higher monoterpene emissions that other landscape units, while sesquiterpene emissions were highest from the vegetated thaw ponds. Principal component analysis further revealed temporal and spatial patterns in the relative compositions of the BVOC profiles. Our results show that soil BVOC emissions change in response to active permafrost thaw.

How to cite: Jiao, Y., Davie-Martin, C., Kramshøj, M., Christiansen, C., Lee, H., Althuizen, I., and Rinnan, R.: Volatile carbon emissions from a degrading permafrost peatland, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-3481,, 2022.


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