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Title: Importance of lateral flux and its percolation depth on organic carbon export in Arctic tundra soil: Implications from a soil leaching experiment: Changes of OC in Arctic Soil Leachate

Abstract

Temperature rise in the Arctic is causing deepening of active layers and resulting in the mobilization of deep permafrost dissolved organic matter (DOM). However, the mechanisms of DOM mobilization from Arctic soils, especially upper soil horizons which are drained most frequently through a year, are poorly understood. Here, we conducted a short-term leaching experiment on surface and deep organic active layer soils, from the Yukon River basin, to examine the effects of DOM transport on bulk and molecular characteristics. Our data showed a net release of DOM from surface soils equal to an average of 5% of soil carbon. Conversely, deep soils percolated with surface leachates retained up to 27% of bulk DOM-while releasing fluorescent components (up to 107%), indicating selective release of aromatic components (e.g. lignin, tannin), while retaining non-chromophoric components, as supported by spectrofluorometric and ultra high resolution mass spectroscopic techniques. Our findings highlight the importance of the lateral flux of DOM on ecosystem carbon balance as well as processing of DOM transport through organic active layer soils en route to rivers and streams. This work also suggests the potential role of leachate export as an important mechanism of C losses from Arctic soils, in comparison with themore » more traditional pathway from soil to atmosphere in a warming Arctic.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1];  [2];  [1];  [3]
  1. Department of Geological Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville Florida USA
  2. Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland Washington USA
  3. Center for Ecosystem Science and Society and Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff Arizona USA; Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville Florida USA
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1364009
Report Number(s):
PNNL-SA-124071
Journal ID: ISSN 2169-8953; 49484; KP1704020
DOE Contract Number:
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Journal of Geophysical Research. Biogeosciences; Journal Volume: 122; Journal Issue: 4
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Arctic; Permafrost; Leaching; DOM; FT-ICR-MS; EEMs; Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory

Citation Formats

Zhang, Xiaowen, Hutchings, Jack A., Bianchi, Thomas S., Liu, Yina, Arellano, Ana R., and Schuur, Edward A. G. Importance of lateral flux and its percolation depth on organic carbon export in Arctic tundra soil: Implications from a soil leaching experiment: Changes of OC in Arctic Soil Leachate. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1002/2016JG003754.
Zhang, Xiaowen, Hutchings, Jack A., Bianchi, Thomas S., Liu, Yina, Arellano, Ana R., & Schuur, Edward A. G. Importance of lateral flux and its percolation depth on organic carbon export in Arctic tundra soil: Implications from a soil leaching experiment: Changes of OC in Arctic Soil Leachate. United States. doi:10.1002/2016JG003754.
Zhang, Xiaowen, Hutchings, Jack A., Bianchi, Thomas S., Liu, Yina, Arellano, Ana R., and Schuur, Edward A. G. Sat . "Importance of lateral flux and its percolation depth on organic carbon export in Arctic tundra soil: Implications from a soil leaching experiment: Changes of OC in Arctic Soil Leachate". United States. doi:10.1002/2016JG003754.
@article{osti_1364009,
title = {Importance of lateral flux and its percolation depth on organic carbon export in Arctic tundra soil: Implications from a soil leaching experiment: Changes of OC in Arctic Soil Leachate},
author = {Zhang, Xiaowen and Hutchings, Jack A. and Bianchi, Thomas S. and Liu, Yina and Arellano, Ana R. and Schuur, Edward A. G.},
abstractNote = {Temperature rise in the Arctic is causing deepening of active layers and resulting in the mobilization of deep permafrost dissolved organic matter (DOM). However, the mechanisms of DOM mobilization from Arctic soils, especially upper soil horizons which are drained most frequently through a year, are poorly understood. Here, we conducted a short-term leaching experiment on surface and deep organic active layer soils, from the Yukon River basin, to examine the effects of DOM transport on bulk and molecular characteristics. Our data showed a net release of DOM from surface soils equal to an average of 5% of soil carbon. Conversely, deep soils percolated with surface leachates retained up to 27% of bulk DOM-while releasing fluorescent components (up to 107%), indicating selective release of aromatic components (e.g. lignin, tannin), while retaining non-chromophoric components, as supported by spectrofluorometric and ultra high resolution mass spectroscopic techniques. Our findings highlight the importance of the lateral flux of DOM on ecosystem carbon balance as well as processing of DOM transport through organic active layer soils en route to rivers and streams. This work also suggests the potential role of leachate export as an important mechanism of C losses from Arctic soils, in comparison with the more traditional pathway from soil to atmosphere in a warming Arctic.},
doi = {10.1002/2016JG003754},
journal = {Journal of Geophysical Research. Biogeosciences},
number = 4,
volume = 122,
place = {United States},
year = {Sat Apr 01 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Sat Apr 01 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}
  • The fate of soil organic carbon (SOC) stored in the Arctic permafrost is a key concern as temperatures continue to rise in the northern hemisphere. Studies and conceptual models suggest that SOC degradation is affected by the composition of SOC, but it is unclear exactly what portions of SOC are vulnerable to rapid breakdown and what mechanisms may be controlling SOC degradation upon permafrost thaw. Here, we examine the dynamic consumption and production of labile SOC in an anoxic incubation experiment using soil samples from the active layer at the Barrow Environmental Observatory, Barrow, Alaska, USA. Free-reducing sugars, alcohols, andmore » low-molecular-weight (LMW) organic acids were analyzed during incubation at either –2 or 8 °C for up to 240 days. Results show that simple sugar and alcohol SOC largely account for the initial rapid release of CO 2 and CH 4 through anaerobic fermentation, whereas the fermentation products, acetate and formate, are subsequently utilized as primary substrates for methanogenesis. Iron(III) reduction is correlated to acetate production and methanogenesis, suggesting its important role as an electron acceptor in tundra SOC respiration. These observations are further supported in a glucose addition experiment, in which rapid CO 2 and CH 4 production occurred concurrently with rapid production and consumption of labile organics such as acetate. However, addition of tannic acid, as a more complex organic substrate, showed little influence on the overall production of CO 2 and CH 4 and organic acids. Together our study shows that LMW labile organics in SOC control the initial rapid release of green-house gases upon warming. We thus present a conceptual framework for the labile SOC transformations and their relations to fermentation, iron reduction and methanogenesis, thereby providing the basis for improved model prediction of climate feedbacks in the Arctic.« less
  • Quantitative characterization of soil organic carbon (OC) content is essential due to its significant impacts on surface–subsurface hydrological–thermal processes and microbial decomposition of OC, which both in turn are important for predicting carbon–climate feedbacks. While such quantification is particularly important in the vulnerable organic-rich Arctic region, it is challenging to achieve due to the general limitations of conventional core sampling and analysis methods, and to the extremely dynamic nature of hydrological–thermal processes associated with annual freeze–thaw events. In this study, we develop and test an inversion scheme that can flexibly use single or multiple datasets – including soil liquid watermore » content, temperature and electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) data – to estimate the vertical distribution of OC content. Our approach relies on the fact that OC content strongly influences soil hydrological–thermal parameters and, therefore, indirectly controls the spatiotemporal dynamics of soil liquid water content, temperature and their correlated electrical resistivity. We employ the Community Land Model to simulate nonisothermal surface–subsurface hydrological dynamics from the bedrock to the top of canopy, with consideration of land surface processes (e.g., solar radiation balance, evapotranspiration, snow accumulation and melting) and ice–liquid water phase transitions. For inversion, we combine a deterministic and an adaptive Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) optimization algorithm to estimate a posteriori distributions of desired model parameters. For hydrological–thermal-to-geophysical variable transformation, the simulated subsurface temperature, liquid water content and ice content are explicitly linked to soil electrical resistivity via petrophysical and geophysical models. We validate the developed scheme using different numerical experiments and evaluate the influence of measurement errors and benefit of joint inversion on the estimation of OC and other parameters. We also quantify the propagation of uncertainty from the estimated parameters to prediction of hydrological–thermal responses. We find that, compared to inversion of single dataset (temperature, liquid water content or apparent resistivity), joint inversion of these datasets significantly reduces parameter uncertainty. We find that the joint inversion approach is able to estimate OC and sand content within the shallow active layer (top 0.3 m of soil) with high reliability. Due to the small variations of temperature and moisture within the shallow permafrost (here at about 0.6 m depth), the approach is unable to estimate OC with confidence. However, if the soil porosity is functionally related to the OC and mineral content, which is often observed in organic-rich Arctic soil, the uncertainty of OC estimate at this depth remarkably decreases. Our study documents the value of the new surface–subsurface, deterministic–stochastic inversion approach, as well as the benefit of including multiple types of data to estimate OC and associated hydrological–thermal dynamics.« less
  • Microtopographic variation that develops among features (troughs, rims, and centers) within polygon al landforms of coastal arctic tundra strongly affects movement of surface water and snow and thereby affects soil water contents (θ) and active layer depth (ALD). Spatial variation in ALD among these features may exceed interannual variation in ALD caused by changes in climate and so needs to be represented in projections of changes in arctic ALD. In this study, increases in near-surface θ with decreasing surface elevation among polygon features at the Barrow Experimental Observatory (BEO) were modeled from topographic effects on redistribution of surface water andmore » snow and from lateral water exchange with a subsurface water table during a model run from 1981 to 2015. These increases in θ caused increases in thermal conductivity that in turn caused increases in soil heat fluxes and hence in ALD of up to 15 cm with lower versus higher surface elevation which were consistent with increases measured at BEO. The modeled effects of θ caused interannual variation in maximum ALD that compared well with measurements from 1985 to 2015 at the Barrow Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring (CALM) site (R 2  = 0.61, RMSE = 0.03 m). For higher polygon features, interannual variation in ALD was more closely associated with annual precipitation than mean annual temperature, indicating that soil wetting from increases in precipitation may hasten permafrost degradation beyond that caused by soil warming from increases in air temperature. This degradation may be more rapid if increases in precipitation cause sustained wetting in higher features.« less
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