skip to main content
DOE PAGES title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: The paleoclimatic footprint in the soil carbon stock of the Tibetan permafrost region

Abstract

Tibetan permafrost largely formed during the late Pleistocene glacial period and shrank in the Holocene Thermal Maximum period. Quantifying the impacts of paleoclimatic extremes on soil carbon stock can shed light on the vulnerability of permafrost carbon in the future. Here, we synthesize data from 1114 sites across the Tibetan permafrost region to report that paleoclimate is more important than modern climate in shaping current permafrost carbon distribution, and its importance increases with soil depth, mainly through forming the soil's physiochemical properties. We derive a new estimate of modern soil carbon stock to 3 m depth by including the paleoclimate effects, and find that the stock ( 36 .6 2 .4 + 2 .3 PgC) is triple that predicted by ecosystem models (11.5 ± 4.2 s.e.m PgC), which use pre-industrial climate to initialize the soil carbon pool. The discrepancy highlights the urgent need to incorporate paleoclimate information into model initialization for simulating permafrost soil carbon stocks.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2]; ORCiD logo [3]; ORCiD logo [4];  [5];  [6];  [7];  [1];  [1];  [8];  [9]; ORCiD logo [10];  [11]; ORCiD logo [12]; ORCiD logo [13];  [14]; ORCiD logo [15]; ORCiD logo [13]; ORCiD logo [16]; ORCiD logo [17] more »;  [18] « less
  1. Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Beijing (China). Key Laboratory of Alpine Ecology, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research
  2. Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Beijing (China). Key Laboratory of Alpine Ecology, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research and CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences; Lanzhou Univ. (China)
  3. Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Beijing (China). Key Laboratory of Alpine Ecology, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research and CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences; Peking Univ., Beijing (China). Sino-French Institute for Earth System Science; Univ. of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing (China)
  4. Univ. of Aberdeen, Aberdeen (United Kingdom). Inst. of Biological and Environmental Sciences
  5. Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing (China)
  6. Lanzhou Univ. (China)
  7. Peking Univ. Shenzhen (China). Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Circular Economy
  8. Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, Gansu (China). State Key Laboratory of Cryosphere Science Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources
  9. Chongqing Technology and Business Univ., Chongqing (China)
  10. Peking Univ., Beijing (China)
  11. Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xining, Qinghai (China). Key Lab. of Adaptation and Evolution of Plateau Biota, Northwest Inst. of Plateau Biology
  12. Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Beijing (China). Key Laboratory of Alpine Ecology, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research and CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences
  13. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  14. McMaster Univ., Hamilton, ON (Canada). McMaster Centre for Climate Change
  15. Auburn Univ., Auburn, AL (United States). International Center for Climate and Global Change Research
  16. Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Beijing (China). State Key Lab. of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Inst. of Botany
  17. Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD (United States)
  18. Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou (China). Cryosphere Research Station on Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, State Key Lab. of Cryospheric Science, Northwest Inst. of Eco–Environment and Resources (NIEER)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE; National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC)
OSTI Identifier:
1648862
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 10; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Ding, Jinzhi, Wang, Tao, Piao, Shilong, Smith, Pete, Zhang, Ganlin, Yan, Zhengjie, Ren, Shuai, Liu, Dan, Wang, Shiping, Chen, Shengyun, Dai, Fuqiang, He, Jinsheng, Li, Yingnian, Liu, Yongwen, Mao, Jiafu, Arain, Altaf, Tian, Hanqin, Shi, Xiaoying, Yang, Yuanhe, Zeng, Ning, and Zhao, Lin. The paleoclimatic footprint in the soil carbon stock of the Tibetan permafrost region. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12214-5.
Ding, Jinzhi, Wang, Tao, Piao, Shilong, Smith, Pete, Zhang, Ganlin, Yan, Zhengjie, Ren, Shuai, Liu, Dan, Wang, Shiping, Chen, Shengyun, Dai, Fuqiang, He, Jinsheng, Li, Yingnian, Liu, Yongwen, Mao, Jiafu, Arain, Altaf, Tian, Hanqin, Shi, Xiaoying, Yang, Yuanhe, Zeng, Ning, & Zhao, Lin. The paleoclimatic footprint in the soil carbon stock of the Tibetan permafrost region. United States. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12214-5
Ding, Jinzhi, Wang, Tao, Piao, Shilong, Smith, Pete, Zhang, Ganlin, Yan, Zhengjie, Ren, Shuai, Liu, Dan, Wang, Shiping, Chen, Shengyun, Dai, Fuqiang, He, Jinsheng, Li, Yingnian, Liu, Yongwen, Mao, Jiafu, Arain, Altaf, Tian, Hanqin, Shi, Xiaoying, Yang, Yuanhe, Zeng, Ning, and Zhao, Lin. Fri . "The paleoclimatic footprint in the soil carbon stock of the Tibetan permafrost region". United States. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12214-5. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1648862.
@article{osti_1648862,
title = {The paleoclimatic footprint in the soil carbon stock of the Tibetan permafrost region},
author = {Ding, Jinzhi and Wang, Tao and Piao, Shilong and Smith, Pete and Zhang, Ganlin and Yan, Zhengjie and Ren, Shuai and Liu, Dan and Wang, Shiping and Chen, Shengyun and Dai, Fuqiang and He, Jinsheng and Li, Yingnian and Liu, Yongwen and Mao, Jiafu and Arain, Altaf and Tian, Hanqin and Shi, Xiaoying and Yang, Yuanhe and Zeng, Ning and Zhao, Lin},
abstractNote = {Tibetan permafrost largely formed during the late Pleistocene glacial period and shrank in the Holocene Thermal Maximum period. Quantifying the impacts of paleoclimatic extremes on soil carbon stock can shed light on the vulnerability of permafrost carbon in the future. Here, we synthesize data from 1114 sites across the Tibetan permafrost region to report that paleoclimate is more important than modern climate in shaping current permafrost carbon distribution, and its importance increases with soil depth, mainly through forming the soil's physiochemical properties. We derive a new estimate of modern soil carbon stock to 3 m depth by including the paleoclimate effects, and find that the stock ( 36 .6 − 2 .4 + 2 .3 PgC) is triple that predicted by ecosystem models (11.5 ± 4.2 s.e.m PgC), which use pre-industrial climate to initialize the soil carbon pool. The discrepancy highlights the urgent need to incorporate paleoclimate information into model initialization for simulating permafrost soil carbon stocks.},
doi = {10.1038/s41467-019-12214-5},
journal = {Nature Communications},
number = 1,
volume = 10,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {9}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Save / Share:

Works referenced in this record:

Storage, patterns, and control of soil organic carbon and nitrogen in the northeastern margin of the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau
journal, July 2012


The permafrost carbon inventory on the Tibetan Plateau: a new evaluation using deep sediment cores
journal, March 2016

  • Ding, Jinzhi; Li, Fei; Yang, Guibiao
  • Global Change Biology, Vol. 22, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13257

The Community Climate System Model Version 4
journal, October 2011

  • Gent, Peter R.; Danabasoglu, Gokhan; Donner, Leo J.
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 24, Issue 19
  • DOI: 10.1175/2011JCLI4083.1

A Tibetan lake sediment record of Holocene Indian summer monsoon variability
journal, August 2014

  • Bird, Broxton W.; Polisar, Pratigya J.; Lei, Yanbin
  • Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Vol. 399
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2014.05.017

Climate change and the permafrost carbon feedback
journal, April 2015

  • Schuur, E. A. G.; McGuire, A. D.; Schädel, C.
  • Nature, Vol. 520, Issue 7546
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature14338

Evolution of permafrost on the Qinghai-Xizang (Tibet) Plateau since the end of the late Pleistocene
journal, January 2007

  • Jin, H. J.; Chang, X. L.; Wang, S. L.
  • Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 112, Issue F2
  • DOI: 10.1029/2006JF000521

Decadal soil carbon accumulation across Tibetan permafrost regions
journal, May 2017

  • Ding, Jinzhi; Chen, Leiyi; Ji, Chengjun
  • Nature Geoscience, Vol. 10, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2945

Variation Partitioning of Species data Matrices: Estimation and Comparison of Fractions
journal, October 2006


GLEAM v3: satellite-based land evaporation and root-zone soil moisture
journal, January 2017

  • Martens, Brecht; Miralles, Diego G.; Lievens, Hans
  • Geoscientific Model Development, Vol. 10, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.5194/gmd-10-1903-2017

Thermal regimes and degradation modes of permafrost along the Qinghai-Tibet Highway
journal, November 2006

  • Jin, Huijun; Zhao, Lin; Wang, Shaoling
  • Science in China Series D: Earth Sciences, Vol. 49, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1007/s11430-006-2003-z

CLIMATE CHANGE: Permafrost and the Global Carbon Budget
journal, June 2006


Inhibition of insulin resistance by PGE1 via autophagy-dependent FGF21 pathway in diabetic nephropathy
journal, January 2018


The North American Carbon Program Multi-Scale Synthesis and Terrestrial Model Intercomparison Project – Part 1: Overview and experimental design
journal, January 2013

  • Huntzinger, D. N.; Schwalm, C.; Michalak, A. M.
  • Geoscientific Model Development, Vol. 6, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.5194/gmd-6-2121-2013

Active layer thickness calculation over the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau
journal, June 2009


Holocene--Late Pleistocene Climatic Ice Core Records from Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau
journal, October 1989


Temporal variation of soil organic matter content and potential determinants in Tibet, China
journal, June 2011


Potential carbon release from permafrost soils of Northeastern Siberia
journal, December 2006


Soil carbon storage controlled by interactions between geochemistry and climate
journal, August 2015

  • Doetterl, Sebastian; Stevens, Antoine; Six, Johan
  • Nature Geoscience, Vol. 8, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2516

Holocene environmental changes in Bangong Co basin (Western Tibet). Part 2: The pollen record
journal, February 1996

  • Van Campo, E.; Cour, P.; Sixuan, Hang
  • Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Vol. 120, Issue 1-2
  • DOI: 10.1016/0031-0182(95)00033-X

Climate history shapes contemporary leaf litter decomposition
journal, January 2015

  • Strickland, Michael S.; Keiser, Ashley D.; Bradford, Mark A.
  • Biogeochemistry, Vol. 122, Issue 2-3
  • DOI: 10.1007/s10533-014-0065-0

Thermal state of permafrost and active layer in Central Asia during the international polar year
journal, April 2010

  • Zhao, Lin; Wu, Qingbai; Marchenko, S. S.
  • Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, Vol. 21, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1002/ppp.688

Estimated stocks of circumpolar permafrost carbon with quantified uncertainty ranges and identified data gaps
journal, January 2014


Permafrost degradation and its environmental effects on the Tibetan Plateau: A review of recent research
journal, November 2010


Mineral control of soil organic carbon storage and turnover
journal, September 1997

  • Torn, Margaret S.; Trumbore, Susan E.; Chadwick, Oliver A.
  • Nature, Vol. 389, Issue 6647
  • DOI: 10.1038/38260

Northern Hemisphere freezing/thawing index variations over the twentieth century
journal, January 2006

  • Frauenfeld, Oliver W.; Zhang, Tingjun; Mccreight, James L.
  • International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 27, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1002/joc.1372

The Comparison Map Profile Method: A Strategy for Multiscale Comparison of Quantitative and Qualitative Images
journal, September 2008

  • Gaucherel, CÉdric; Alleaume, Samuel; Hely, Christelle
  • IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Vol. 46, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.1109/TGRS.2008.919379

Toward more realistic projections of soil carbon dynamics by Earth system models: SOIL CARBON MODELING
journal, January 2016

  • Luo, Yiqi; Ahlström, Anders; Allison, Steven D.
  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol. 30, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1002/2015GB005239

Editorial: Organic carbon pools in permafrost regions on the Qinghai–Xizang (Tibetan) Plateau
journal, January 2015


Cation exchange in forest soils: the need for a new perspective
journal, December 2008


Relative Importance for Linear Regression in R : The Package relaimpo
journal, January 2006


Upscaling terrestrial carbon dioxide fluxes in Alaska with satellite remote sensing and support vector regression: UPSCALING CO
journal, July 2013

  • Ueyama, Masahito; Ichii, Kazuhito; Iwata, Hiroki
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, Vol. 118, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1002/jgrg.20095

Permafrost carbon-climate feedbacks accelerate global warming
journal, August 2011

  • Koven, C. D.; Ringeval, B.; Friedlingstein, P.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 108, Issue 36
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1103910108

Large divergence of satellite and Earth system model estimates of global terrestrial CO2 fertilization
journal, December 2015

  • Kolby Smith, W.; Reed, Sasha C.; Cleveland, Cory C.
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 6, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2879

Comment on “Climate legacies drive global soil carbon stocks in terrestrial ecosystems”
journal, March 2018


The effect of vertically resolved soil biogeochemistry and alternate soil C and N models on C dynamics of CLM4
journal, January 2013


Stabilization and destabilization of soil organic matter: mechanisms and controls
journal, November 1996


Legacy effects in linked ecological–soil–geomorphic systems of drylands
journal, February 2015

  • Monger, Curtis; Sala, Osvaldo E.; Duniway, Michael C.
  • Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, Vol. 13, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1890/140269

Ecological and Environmental Issues Faced by a Developing Tibet
journal, February 2012

  • Yu, Chengqun; Zhang, Yangjian; Claus, Holzapfel
  • Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 46, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1021/es2047188

Bayesian Model Selection and Model Averaging
journal, March 2000


Digital mapping of soil organic matter stocks using Random Forest modeling in a semi-arid steppe ecosystem
journal, May 2010


A new map of permafrost distribution on the Tibetan Plateau
journal, January 2017


Deep Yedoma permafrost: A synthesis of depositional characteristics and carbon vulnerability
journal, September 2017


Storage, patterns and controls of soil organic carbon in the Tibetan grasslands
journal, July 2008


Decreased Soil Cation Exchange Capacity Across Northern China's Grasslands Over the Last Three Decades: CEC dynamics across grasslands
journal, November 2017

  • Fang, Kai; Kou, Dan; Wang, Guanqin
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, Vol. 122, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1002/2017JG003968

Al/Fe Mineral Controls on Soil Organic Carbon Stock Across Tibetan Alpine Grasslands
journal, February 2019

  • Fang, Kai; Qin, Shuqi; Chen, Leiyi
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, Vol. 124, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1029/2018JG004782

Stability of organic carbon in deep soil layers controlled by fresh carbon supply
journal, November 2007

  • Fontaine, Sébastien; Barot, Sébastien; Barré, Pierre
  • Nature, Vol. 450, Issue 7167
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature06275

Climate legacies drive global soil carbon stocks in terrestrial ecosystems
journal, April 2017

  • Delgado-Baquerizo, Manuel; Eldridge, David J.; Maestre, Fernando T.
  • Science Advances, Vol. 3, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1602008