Temperature and moisture effects on greenhouse gas emissions from deep active-layer boreal soils

  • Ben Bond-Lamberty, A. Peyton Smith, Vanessa Bailey
  • Biogeosciences, December 2016, Copernicus GmbH
  • DOI: 10.5194/bg-13-6669-2016

Understanding how deep northern soils will respond to environmental changes

What is it about?

Rising air temperatures and increasing fires are occurring in northern ecosystems, for example Alaska's boreal forest. How will this affect unfrozen and frozen (permafrost) soils? We sampled deep unfrozen soils and measured their production of carbon dioxide and methane, two potent greenhouse gases, in a laboratory experiment. We found that such deep but unfrozen high-latitude soils may be strongly affected by warming and changes in soil moisture conditions.

Why is it important?

High latitude northern ecosystems store huge amounts of carbon in their vegetation and soils and are being subjected to rapid and perhaps unprecedented changes: rising temperatures, increasing fire, and vegetation shifts. It's important to understand how they might respond, and what the subsequent consequences for the larger earth system might be as long-stored carbon is lost to the atmosphere.


Ben Bond-Lamberty

This study is unusual in its focus on deep but unfrozen soils. These may be particularly vulnerable to degradation with changing plant growth and environmental conditions.

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