Alpine permafrost could account for a quarter of thawed carbon based on Plio-Pleistocene paleoclimate analogue

Cheng, Feng, Garzione, Carmala, Li, Xiangzhong, Salzmann, Ulrich, Schwarz, Florian, Haywood, Alan M., Tindall, Julia, Nie, Junsheng, Li, Lin, Wang, Lin, Abbott, Benjamin W., Elliott, Ben, Liu, Weiguo, Upadhyay, Deepshikha, Arnold, Alexandrea and Tripati, Aradhna (2022) Alpine permafrost could account for a quarter of thawed carbon based on Plio-Pleistocene paleoclimate analogue. Nature Communications, 13 (1). p. 1329. ISSN 2041-1723

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Estimates of the permafrost-climate feedback vary in magnitude and sign, partly because permafrost carbon stability in warmer-than-present conditions is not well constrained. Here we use a Plio-Pleistocene lacustrine reconstruction of mean annual air temperature (MAAT) from the Tibetan Plateau, the largest alpine permafrost region on the Earth, to constrain past and future changes in permafrost carbon storage. Clumped isotope-temperatures (Δ47-T) indicate warmer MAAT (~1.2 °C) prior to 2.7 Ma, and support a permafrost-free environment on the northern Tibetan Plateau in a warmer-than-present climate. Δ47-T indicate ~8.1 °C cooling from 2.7 Ma, coincident with Northern Hemisphere glacial intensification. Combined with climate models and global permafrost distribution, these results indicate, under conditions similar to mid-Pliocene Warm period (3.3–3.0 Ma), ~60% of alpine permafrost containing ~85 petagrams of carbon may be vulnerable to thawing compared to ~20% of circumarctic permafrost. This estimate highlights ~25% of permafrost carbon and the permafrost-climate feedback could originate in alpine areas.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: We thank D. Breecker, P. Molnar, T. Herbert, G. Dupont-Nivet, K. Snell, M. Jolivet, A. Zuza, and M. Kohn for discussions regarding paleoclimate reconstruction, M. Li for guidance regarding spectral analysis, P. Higgins for providing the carbonate stable isotope methodology and training, J. Dong for helping with grain size analysis, and the Tripati Lab for assistance with clumped isotope analyses. F.C. is supported by NSFC grants (No. 41888101; 41930213). C.G. is supported by U.S. NSF grants EAR-1348005 and OISE-1545859. X.L. is supported by NSFC grants (No. 42173004; 41991323) and Yunnan Fundamental Research Projects (202001AV070012). U.S. and J.N. acknowledge financial support from the Royal Society (IE141128). A.T. and B.E. were supported by Department of Energy (DOE) DE-SC0010288, A.T., B.E., and A.A. were supported by NSF ICER-1936715. D.U. was supported by NSF EAR-1352212. B.A. was supported by the U.S. NSF grant No. 1916565. Clumped instrumentation was supported by NSF EAR-0949191.
Subjects: F600 Geology
F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2022 11:57
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2022 12:00

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