Small ponds with major impact: The relevance of ponds and lakes in permafrost landscapes to carbon dioxide emissions



[1] Although ponds make up roughly half of the total area of surface water in permafrost landscapes, their relevance to carbon dioxide emissions on a landscape scale has, to date, remained largely unknown. We have therefore investigated the inflows and outflows of dissolved organic and inorganic carbon from lakes, ponds, and outlets on Samoylov Island, in the Lena Delta of northeastern Siberia in September 2008, together with their carbon dioxide emissions. Outgassing of carbon dioxide (CO2) from these ponds and lakes, which cover 25% of Samoylov Island, was found to account for between 74 and 81% of the calculated net landscape-scale CO2 emissions of 0.2–1.1 g C m−2 d−1 during September 2008, of which 28–43% was from ponds and 27–46% from lakes. The lateral export of dissolved carbon was negligible compared to the gaseous emissions due to the small volumes of runoff. The concentrations of dissolved inorganic carbon in the ponds were found to triple during freezeback, highlighting their importance for temporary carbon storage between the time of carbon production and its emission as CO2. If ponds are ignored the total summer emissions of CO2-C from water bodies of the islands within the entire Lena Delta (0.7–1.3 Tg) are underestimated by between 35 and 62%.