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      Seismic lines in the boreal and arctic ecosystems of North America: environmental impacts, challenges, and opportunities

      1 , 2 , 3

      Environmental Reviews

      Canadian Science Publishing

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          The effect of permafrost thaw on old carbon release and net carbon exchange from tundra.

          Permafrost soils in boreal and Arctic ecosystems store almost twice as much carbon as is currently present in the atmosphere. Permafrost thaw and the microbial decomposition of previously frozen organic carbon is considered one of the most likely positive climate feedbacks from terrestrial ecosystems to the atmosphere in a warmer world. The rate of carbon release from permafrost soils is highly uncertain, but it is crucial for predicting the strength and timing of this carbon-cycle feedback effect, and thus how important permafrost thaw will be for climate change this century and beyond. Sustained transfers of carbon to the atmosphere that could cause a significant positive feedback to climate change must come from old carbon, which forms the bulk of the permafrost carbon pool that accumulated over thousands of years. Here we measure net ecosystem carbon exchange and the radiocarbon age of ecosystem respiration in a tundra landscape undergoing permafrost thaw to determine the influence of old carbon loss on ecosystem carbon balance. We find that areas that thawed over the past 15 years had 40 per cent more annual losses of old carbon than minimally thawed areas, but had overall net ecosystem carbon uptake as increased plant growth offset these losses. In contrast, areas that thawed decades earlier lost even more old carbon, a 78 per cent increase over minimally thawed areas; this old carbon loss contributed to overall net ecosystem carbon release despite increased plant growth. Our data document significant losses of soil carbon with permafrost thaw that, over decadal timescales, overwhelms increased plant carbon uptake at rates that could make permafrost a large biospheric carbon source in a warmer world.
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            Carbon respiration from subsurface peat accelerated by climate warming in the subarctic

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              Thawing sub-arctic permafrost: Effects on vegetation and methane emissions

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Environmental Reviews
                Environ. Rev.
                Canadian Science Publishing
                1181-8700
                1208-6053
                June 2018
                June 2018
                : 26
                : 2
                : 214-229
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, 580 Booth Street, Ottawa, ON K1A 0E4, Canada.
                [2 ]Fuse Consulting Ltd., Spruce Grove, AB T7X 3S2, Canada.
                [3 ]Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, 5320 122 Street NW, Edmonton, AB T6H 3S5, Canada.
                Article
                10.1139/er-2017-0080
                © 2018

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