Bounding cross-shelf transport time and degradation in Siberian-Arctic land-ocean carbon transfer

Lisa Bröder, Tommaso Tesi, August Andersson, Igor Semiletov, Örjan Gustafsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The burial of terrestrial organic carbon (terrOC) in marine sediments contributes to the regulation of atmospheric CO2 on geological timescales and may mitigate positive feedback to present-day climate warming. However, the fate of terrOC in marine settings is debated, with uncertainties regarding its degradation during transport. Here, we employ compound-specific radiocarbon analyses of terrestrial biomarkers to determine cross-shelf transport times. For the World's largest marginal sea, the East Siberian Arctic shelf, transport requires 3600 ± 300 years for the 600 km from the Lena River to the Laptev Sea shelf edge. TerrOC was reduced by ∼85% during transit resulting in a degradation rate constant of 2.4 ± 0.6 kyr-1. Hence, terrOC degradation during cross-shelf transport constitutes a carbon source to the atmosphere over millennial time. For the contemporary carbon cycle on the other hand, slow terrOC degradation brings considerable attenuation of the decadal-centennial permafrost carbon-climate feedback caused by global warming.

Original languageEnglish
Article number806
JournalNature Communications
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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