Permafrost carbon: Stock and decomposability of a globally significant carbon pool
Article first published online: 27 OCT 2006
Copyright 2006 by the American Geophysical Union.
Geophysical Research Letters
Volume 33, Issue 20, October 2006
How to Cite
2006), Permafrost carbon: Stock and decomposability of a globally significant carbon pool, Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L20502, doi:10.1029/2006GL027484., , , , , , and (
- Issue published online: 27 OCT 2006
- Article first published online: 27 OCT 2006
- Manuscript Accepted: 19 SEP 2006
- Manuscript Revised: 11 SEP 2006
- Manuscript Received: 6 JUL 2006
 The magnitude of future CO2-induced climate warming is difficult to predict because of uncertainties in the role of ecosystems and oceans as CO2 sources and sinks. Siberia has extensive areas (1 × 106 km2) of deep (up to 90 m) deposits of organic-rich frozen loess (wind-blown silt) that accumulated during the Pleistocene but have not been considered in most global carbon (C) inventories. Similar deposits occur less extensively in Alaska. Recent warming at high latitudes causes this permafrost (permanently frozen ground) to thaw, raising questions about the fate of C in thawing permafrost. Here we show that Siberian loess permafrost contains a large organic C pool (∼450 GT—more than half the quantity in the current atmosphere) that decomposes quickly when thawed, and could act as a positive feedback to climate warming.