Massive remobilization of permafrost carbon during post-glacial warming

T. Tesi*, F. Muschitiello, R. H. Smittenberg, M. Jakobsson, J. E. Vonk, P.J. Hill, A. Andersson, N. Kirchner, R. Noormets, O. Dudarev, I. Semiletov, H. Gustafsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Recent hypotheses, based on atmospheric records and models, suggest that permafrost carbon (PF-C) accumulated during the last glaciation may have been an important source for the atmospheric CO2 rise during post-glacial warming. However, direct physical indications for such PF-C release have so far been absent. Here we use the Laptev Sea (Arctic Ocean) as an archive to investigate PF-C destabilization during the last glacial-interglacial period. Our results show evidence for massive supply of PF-C from Siberian soils as a result of severe active layer deepening in response to the warming. Thawing of PF-C must also have brought about an enhanced organic matter respiration and, thus, these findings suggest that PF-C may indeed have been an important source of CO2 across the extensive permafrost domain. The results challenge current paradigms on the post-glacial CO2 rise and, at the same time, serve as a harbinger for possible consequences of the present-day warming of PF-C soils.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13653
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2016


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