Temperature sensitivity of methanogenesis in a thermokarst lake sediment core

guido.grosse [ at ] awi.de


Little is known about temperature sensitivity of permafrost organic carbon (OC) mineralization over time scales of years to centuries following thaw. Due to their formation and thaw histories, taliks (thaw bulbs) beneath thermokarst lakes provide a unique natural laboratory from which to examine how permafrost thawed in saturated anaerobic conditions responds to changes in temperature following long periods of time since thaw. We anaerobically incubated samples from a 590 cm thermokarst lake sediment core near Fairbanks, Alaska at four temperatures (0, 3, 10, and 25 ºC) bracketing observed talik temperatures. We show that since initial thaw ~400 yr BP CH4 production shifts from being most sensitive to at lower (0-3 ºC; Q10-EC=1.15E7) temperatures to being most sensitive at higher (10-25 ºC; Q10-EC=67) temperatures. Frozen sediments collected from beneath the talik, thawed at the commencement of the incubation, had significant (p ≤ 0.05) increases in CH4 production rates at lower temperatures but did not show significant CH4 production rate increases at higher temperatures (10-25 ºC). We hypothesize the thawing of sediments removed a major barrier to C mineralization, leading to rapid initial permafrost C mineralization and preferential mineralization of the most biolabile OC compounds. In contrast, sediments which had been thawed beneath the lake for longer periods of time did not experience statistically significant increases in CH4 production at lower temperatures (0-10 ºC), but had high temperature sensitivities at higher temperatures (10-25 ºC). We believe these rate increases are due to warmer temperatures in the experimental incubations crossing activation energy thresholds, allowing previously recalcitrant fractions of OC to be utilized, and/or the presence of different microbial communities adapted to thawed sediments. Recently-deposited sediments at shallow depths in the lake core experienced increases in CH4 production across all incubation temperatures (Q10-ST=4.4).

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AGU Fall Meeting, 12 Dec 2016 - 16 Dec 2016, San Francisco, USA.
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Heslop, J. K. , Walther Anthony, K. M. , Grosse, G. , Anthony, P. and Bondurant, A. C. (2016): Temperature sensitivity of methanogenesis in a thermokarst lake sediment core , AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, USA, 12 December 2016 - 16 December 2016 .

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