Abrupt Frozen Soil Thaw Produces More Carbon Emissions: Study

Thu May 02 2024
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BEIJING: Chinese researchers have made a significant discovery regarding soil carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, revealing that these emissions are considerably more sensitive to climate warming in areas where permafrost has collapsed compared to areas where it remains intact.

Published in the journal Nature Geoscience this week, this finding provides new insights into the connection between permafrost carbon-climate feedback and potential future global warming scenarios.

The phenomenon of abrupt permafrost thaw, known as thermokarst, has occurred in approximately 20 percent of the northern permafrost region on Earth, which holds around half of all below-ground organic carbon.

Researchers from the Institute of Botany under the Chinese Academy of Sciences observed that the warming-induced increase in soil CO2 release was approximately 5.5 times higher in thermokarst features than in adjacent non-thermokarst landforms.

Their investigation revealed that the heightened response to warming was primarily attributed to the lower quality of soil substrate and the greater abundance of microbial functional genes associated with organic carbon decomposition in thermokarst-affected soils.


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