skip to main content

Search for: All records

Award ID contains: 1916565

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Abstract

    Understanding methane (CH4) emission from thermokarst lakes is crucial for predicting the impacts of abrupt thaw on the permafrost carbon-climate feedback. However, observational evidence, especially from high-altitude permafrost regions, is still scarce. Here, by combining field surveys, radio- and stable-carbon isotopic analyses, and metagenomic sequencing, we present multiple characteristics of CH4emissions from 120 thermokarst lakes in 30 clusters along a 1100 km transect on the Tibetan Plateau. We find that thermokarst lakes have high CH4emissions during the ice-free period (13.4 ± 1.5 mmol m−2d−1; mean ± standard error) across this alpine permafrost region. Ebullition constitutes 84% of CH4emissions, which are fueled primarily by young carbon decomposition through the hydrogenotrophic pathway. The relative abundances of methanogenic genes correspond to the observed CH4fluxes. Overall, multiple parameters obtained in this study provide benchmarks for better predicting the strength of permafrost carbon-climate feedback in high-altitude permafrost regions.

    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    The UN's Paris Agreement goal of keeping global warming between 1.5 and 2°C is dangerously obsolete and needs to be replaced by a commitment to restore Earth's climate. We now know that continued use of fossil fuels associated with 1.5–2°C scenarios would result in hundreds of millions of pollution deaths and likely trigger multiple tipping elements in the Earth system. Unexpected advances in renewable power production and storage have radically expanded our climate response capacity. The cost of renewable technologies has plummeted at least 30‐year faster than projected, and renewables now dominate energy investment and growth. Thisrenewable revolutioncreates an opportunity and responsibility to raise our climate ambitions. Rather than aiming for climate mitigation—making things less bad—we should commit to climate restoration—a rapid return to Holocene‐like climate conditions where we know humanity and life on Earth can thrive. Based on observed and projected energy system trends, we estimate that the global economy could reach zero emissions by 2040 and potentially return atmospheric CO2to pre‐industrial levels by 2100–2150. However, this would require an intense and sustained rollout of renewable energy and negative emissions technologies on very large scales. We describe these clean electrification scenarios and outline technical and socioeconomic strategies that would increase the likelihood of restoring a Holocene‐like climate in the next 100 years. We invite researchers, policymakers, regulators, educators, and citizens in all countries to share and promote this positive message of climate restoration for human wellbeing and planetary stability.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Riverine exports of silicon (Si) influence global carbon cycling through the growth of marine diatoms, which account for ∼25% of global primary production. Climate change will likely alter river Si exports in biome‐specific ways due to interacting shifts in chemical weathering rates, hydrologic connectivity, and metabolic processes in aquatic and terrestrial systems. Nonetheless, factors driving long‐term changes in Si exports remain unexplored at local, regional, and global scales. We evaluated how concentrations and yields of dissolved Si (DSi) changed over the last several decades of rapid climate warming using long‐term data sets from 60 rivers and streams spanning the globe (e.g., Antarctic, tropical, temperate, boreal, alpine, Arctic systems). We show that widespread changes in river DSi concentration and yield have occurred, with the most substantial shifts occurring in alpine and polar regions. The magnitude and direction of trends varied within and among biomes, were most strongly associated with differences in land cover, and were often independent of changes in river discharge. These findings indicate that there are likely diverse mechanisms driving change in river Si biogeochemistry that span the land‐water interface, which may include glacial melt, changes in terrestrial vegetation, and river productivity. Finally, trends were often stronger in months outside of the growing season, particularly in temperate and boreal systems, demonstrating a potentially important role of shifting seasonality for the flux of Si from rivers. Our results have implications for the timing and magnitude of silica processing in rivers and its delivery to global oceans.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    In Arctic catchments, bacterioplankton are dispersed through soils and streams, both of which freeze and thaw/flow in phase, seasonally. To characterize this dispersal and its potential impact on biogeochemistry, we collected bacterioplankton and measured stream physicochemistry during snowmelt and after vegetation senescence across multiple stream orders in alpine, tundra, and tundra‐dominated‐by‐lakes catchments. In all catchments, differences in community composition were associated with seasonal thaw, then attachment status (i.e. free floating or sediment associated), and then stream order. Bacterioplankton taxonomic diversity and richness were elevated in sediment‐associated fractions and in higher‐order reaches during snowmelt. FamiliesChthonomonadaceae,Pyrinomonadaceae, andXiphinematobacteraceaewere abundantly different across seasons, whileFlavobacteriaceaeandMicroscillaceaewere abundantly different between free‐floating and sediment‐associated fractions. Physicochemical data suggested there was high iron (Fe+) production (alpine catchment); Fe+production and chloride (Cl) removal (tundra catchment); and phosphorus (SRP) removal and ammonium (NH4+) production (lake catchment). In tundra landscapes, these ‘hot spots’ of Fe+production and Clremoval accompanied shifts in species richness, while SRP promoted the antecedent community. Our findings suggest that freshet increases bacterial dispersal from headwater catchments to receiving catchments, where bacterioplankton‐mineral relations stabilized communities in free‐flowing reaches, but bacterioplankton‐nutrient relations stabilized those punctuated by lakes.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    The physical and chemical changes that accompany permafrost thaw directly influence the microbial communities that mediate the decomposition of formerly frozen organic matter, leading to uncertainty in permafrost–climate feedbacks. Although changes to microbial metabolism and community structure are documented following thaw, the generality of post‐thaw assembly patterns across permafrost soils of the world remains uncertain, limiting our ability to predict biogeochemistry and microbial community responses to climate change. Based on our review of the Arctic microbiome, permafrost microbiology, and community ecology, we propose thatAssembly Theoryprovides a framework to better understand thaw‐mediated microbiome changes and the implications for community function and climate feedbacks. This framework posits that the prevalence of deterministic or stochastic processes indicates whether the community is well‐suited to thrive in changing environmental conditions. We predict that on a short timescale and following high‐disturbance thaw (e.g., thermokarst), stochasticity dominates post‐thaw microbiome assembly, suggesting that functional predictions will be aided by detailed information about the microbiome. At a longer timescale and lower‐intensity disturbance (e.g., active layer deepening), deterministic processes likely dominate, making environmental parameters sufficient for predicting function. We propose that the contribution of stochastic and deterministic processes to post‐thaw microbiome assembly depends on the characteristics of the thaw disturbance, as well as characteristics of the microbial community, such as the ecological and phylogenetic breadth of functional guilds, their functional redundancy, and biotic interactions. These propagate across space and time, potentially providing a means for predicting the microbial forcing of greenhouse gas feedbacks to global climate change.

    more » « less
  6. Abstract

    Climate change is intensifying the Arctic hydrologic cycle, potentially accelerating the release of carbon and nutrients from permafrost landscapes to rivers. However, there are limited riverine flow and solute data of adequate frequency and duration to test how seasonality and catchment landscape characteristics influence production and transport of carbon and nutrients in Arctic river networks. We measured high frequency hydrochemical dynamics at the outlets of three headwater catchments in Arctic Alaska over 3 years. The catchments represent common Arctic landscapes: low‐gradient tundra, low‐gradient and lake‐influenced tundra, and high‐gradient alpine tundra. Using in‐situ spectrophotometers, we measured dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and nitrate (NO3) concentrations at 15‐min intervals through the flow seasons of 2017, 2018, and 2019. These high‐frequency data allowed us to quantify concentration–discharge (C‐Q) responses during individual storm events across the flow season. Differences in C‐Q responses among catchments indicated strong landscape and seasonal controls on lateral DOC and NO3flux. For the two low‐gradient tundra catchments, we observed consistent DOC enrichment (transport‐limitation) and NO3dilution (source‐limitation) during flow events. Conversely, we found consistent NO3enrichment and DOC dilution in the high‐gradient alpine catchment. Our analysis revealed how high flow events may contribute disproportionately to downstream export in these Arctic streams. Because the duration of the flow season is expected to lengthen and the intensity of Arctic storms are expected to increase, understanding how discharge and solute concentration are coupled is crucial to understanding carbon and nutrient dynamics in rapidly changing permafrost ecosystems.

    more » « less
  7. Abstract

    Climate change is creating widespread ecosystem disturbance across the permafrost zone, including a rapid increase in the extent and severity of tundra wildfire. The expansion of this previously rare disturbance has unknown consequences for lateral nutrient flux from terrestrial to aquatic environments. Lateral loss of nutrients could reduce carbon uptake and slow recovery of already nutrient‐limited tundra ecosystems. To investigate the effects of tundra wildfire on lateral nutrient export, we analyzed water chemistry in and around the 10‐year‐old  Anaktuvuk River fire scar in northern Alaska. We collected water samples from 21 burned and 21 unburned watersheds during snowmelt, at peak growing season, and after plant senescence in 2017 and 2018. After a decade of ecosystem recovery, aboveground biomass had recovered in burned watersheds, but overall carbon and nitrogen remained ~20% lower, and the active layer remained ~10% deeper. Despite lower organic matter stocks, dissolved organic nutrients were substantially elevated in burned watersheds, with higher flow‐weighted concentrations of organic carbon (25% higher), organic nitrogen (59% higher), organic phosphorus (65% higher), and organic sulfur (47% higher). Geochemical proxies indicated greater interaction with mineral soils in watersheds with surface subsidence, but optical analysis and isotopes suggested that recent plant growth, not mineral soil, was the main source of organic nutrients in burned watersheds. Burned and unburned watersheds had similar δ15N‐NO3, indicating that exported nitrogen was of preburn origin (i.e., not recently fixed). Lateral nitrogen flux from burned watersheds was 2‐ to 10‐fold higher than rates of background nitrogen fixation and atmospheric deposition estimated in this area. These findings indicate that wildfire in Arctic tundra can destabilize nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur previously stored in permafrost via plant uptake and leaching. This plant‐mediated nutrient loss could exacerbate terrestrial nutrient limitation after disturbance or serve as an important nutrient release mechanism during succession.

    more » « less
  8. Abstract

    Permafrost degradation is delivering bioavailable dissolved organic matter (DOM) and inorganic nutrients to surface water networks. While these permafrost subsidies represent a small portion of total fluvial DOM and nutrient fluxes, they could influence food webs and net ecosystem carbon balance via priming or nutrient effects that destabilize background DOM. We investigated how addition of biolabile carbon (acetate) and inorganic nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) affected DOM decomposition with 28‐day incubations. We incubated late‐summer stream water from 23 locations nested in seven northern or high‐altitude regions in Asia, Europe, and North America. DOM loss ranged from 3% to 52%, showing a variety of longitudinal patterns within stream networks. DOM optical properties varied widely, but DOM showed compositional similarity based on Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT‐ICR MS) analysis. Addition of acetate and nutrients decreased bulk DOM mineralization (i.e., negative priming), with more negative effects on biodegradable DOM but neutral or positive effects on stable DOM. Unexpectedly, acetate and nutrients triggered breakdown of colored DOM (CDOM), with median decreases of 1.6% in the control and 22% in the amended treatment. Additionally, the uptake of added acetate was strongly limited by nutrient availability across sites. These findings suggest that biolabile DOM and nutrients released from degrading permafrost may decrease background DOM mineralization but alter stoichiometry and light conditions in receiving waterbodies. We conclude that priming and nutrient effects are coupled in northern aquatic ecosystems and that quantifying two‐way interactions between DOM properties and environmental conditions could resolve conflicting observations about the drivers of DOM in permafrost zone waterways.

    more » « less
  9. Key Points We compared tools for describing streamflow timeseries, including streamflow metrics, wavelet, and Fourier analysis Each method indicated streamflow data are structured: variability at short timescales is negatively correlated with long timescales Globally, dams were less correlated with streamflow regime than catchment size and climate were 
    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  10. Males, Jamie (Ed.)

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concludes that climate change has already caused substantial damages at the current 1.2°C of global warming and that warming of 1.5°C would elevate risks of a wide-range of climate tipping points. For example, wet-bulb temperatures are already exceeding safe levels, and the melting of the Greenland and West Antartic ice sheets would lead to over ten metres of sea level rise, representing an existential threat to coastal cities, low-lying nation states, and human wellbeing worldwide. We call for a broad scientific discussion about a stricter and more ambitious climate target of 1.0°C by the end of this century. Comprehensive electrification and highly renewable energy systems offer a pathway to sub-1.5°C futures through rapid defossilisation and large-scale, electricity-based carbon dioxide removal. Independent scenarios show that restoring a stable and safe climate is attainable with coordinated policy and economic support.

    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 12, 2024