East Siberian Arctic inland waters emit mostly contemporary carbon

Joshua F. Dean*, Ove H. Meisel, Melanie Martyn Rosco, Luca Belelli Marchesini, Mark H. Garnett, Henk Lenderink, Richard van Logtestijn, Alberto V. Borges, Steven Bouillon, Thibault Lambert, Thomas Röckmann, Trofim Maximov, Roman Petrov, Sergei Karsanaev, Rien Aerts, Jacobus van Huissteden, Jorien E. Vonk, A. Johannes Dolman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Inland waters (rivers, lakes and ponds) are important conduits for the emission of terrestrial carbon in Arctic permafrost landscapes. These emissions are driven by turnover of contemporary terrestrial carbon and additional pre-aged (Holocene and late-Pleistocene) carbon released from thawing permafrost soils, but the magnitude of these source contributions to total inland water carbon fluxes remains unknown. Here we present unique simultaneous radiocarbon age measurements of inland water CO2, CH4 and dissolved and particulate organic carbon in northeast Siberia during summer. We show that >80% of total inland water carbon was contemporary in age, but pre-aged carbon contributed >50% at sites strongly affected by permafrost thaw. CO2 and CH4 were younger than dissolved and particulate organic carbon, suggesting emissions were primarily fuelled by contemporary carbon decomposition. Our findings reveal that inland water carbon emissions from permafrost landscapes may be more sensitive to changes in contemporary carbon turnover than the release of pre-aged carbon from thawing permafrost.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1627
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


This work was carried out under the program of the Netherlands Earth System Science Centre (NESSC), financially supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW), grant number: 024.002.001. L.B.M. acknowledges the support of the RUDN University program 5-100. A.V.B. is a senior research associate at the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS). We thank Caitlyn Witkowski of the University of Bristol for comments on draft versions of the paper.

FundersFunder number
Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek024.002.001
Netherlands Earth System Science Centre
RUDN University


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