Siberian CO2 efflux in winter as a CO2 source and cause of seasonality in atmospheric CO2

S. A. Zimov, S. P. Davidov, Y. V. Voropaev, S. F. Prosiannikov, I. P. Semiletov, M. C. Chapin, F. S. Chapin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    160 Citations (Scopus)


    Over three years, we found a consistent CO2 efflux from forest tundra of the Russian North throughout the year, including a large (89 g C m2 yr1) efflux during winter. Our results provide one explanation for the observations that the highest atmospheric CO2 concentration and greatest seasonal amplitude occur at high latitudes rather than over the mid- latitudes, where fossil fuel sources are large, and where high summer productivity offset by winter respiration should give large seasonal oscillations in atmospheric CO2. Winter respiration probably contributed substantially to the boreal winter CO2 efflux. Respiration is an exothermic process that produces enough heat to warm soils and promote further decomposition. We suggest that, as a result of this positive feedback, small changes in surface heat flux, associated with human activities in the North or with regional or global warming, could release large quantities of organic carbon that are presently stored in permafrost.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)111-120
    Number of pages10
    JournalClimatic Change
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1996

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Global and Planetary Change
    • Atmospheric Science

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