Characterisation of three regimes of collapsing arctic ice complex deposits on the SE Laptev Sea coast using biomarkers and dual carbon isotopes

L. Sánchez-García, J. E. Vonk, A. N. Charkin, D. Kosmach, Oleg Victorovich Dudarev, Igor Petrovich Semiletov, O. Gustafsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Arctic amplification of climate warming is intensifying the thaw and coastal erosion of the widespread and carbon-rich Siberian Ice Complex Deposits (ICD). Despite the potential for altering long-term carbon dynamics in the Arctic, the susceptibility of organic carbon (OC) to degradation as the ICD thaw is poorly characterised. This study identifies signs of OC degradation in three Siberian ICD regimes of coastal erosion through elemental, isotopic and molecular analyses. The degree of erosion appears to determine the extent of degradation. The moisture-limited and beach-protected ICD bluff near Buor-Khaya Cape, characterised by thermokarst mounds (baydzherakhs), represents a dormant regime with limited ongoing degradation. Conversely, the more exposed ICD scarps on eroding riverbanks (Olenek Channel, Lena Delta) and coastal slopes (Muostakh Island) showed more pronounced signs of ongoing OC decay. Different parameters suggest that degradation can partially explain the shift of the OC signature with 14C age in the thawing ICD. Exposure time, degree of erosion, slope gradient and moisture conditions appear to be key factors determining the degradation propensity of OC in exposed ICD. These field results document the lability of OC in ICD upon thaw and illustrate the potential for transferring old OC into the rapidly cycling atmosphere-biosphere carbon pools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-183
Number of pages12
JournalPermafrost and Periglacial Processes
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2014

Keywords

  • Ice Complex Deposits
  • Isotopic-molecular markers
  • Thermal degradation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes

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