Fast response of cold ice-rich permafrost in northeast Siberia to a warming climate


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jan.nitzbon [ at ] awi.de

Abstract

The ice- and organic-rich permafrost of the northeast Siberian Arctic lowlands (NESAL) has been projected to remain stable beyond 2100, even under pessimistic climate warming scenarios. However, the numerical models used for these projections lack processes which induce widespread landscape change termed thermokarst, precluding realistic simulation of permafrost thaw in such ice-rich terrain. Here, we consider thermokarst-inducing processes in a numerical model and show that substantial permafrost degradation, involving widespread landscape collapse, is projected for the NESAL under strong warming (RCP8.5), while thawing is moderated by stabilizing feedbacks under moderate warming (RCP4.5). We estimate that by 2100 thaw-affected carbon could be up to three-fold (twelve-fold) under RCP4.5 (RCP8.5), of what is projected if thermokarst-inducing processes are ignored. Our study provides progress towards robust assessments of the global permafrost carbon–climate feedback by Earth system models, and underlines the importance of mitigating climate change to limit its impacts on permafrost ecosystems.



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Article
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ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
Publication Status
Published
Eprint ID
51870
DOI 10.1038/s41467-020-15725-8

Cite as
Nitzbon, J. , Westermann, S. , Langer, M. , Martin, L. C. P. , Strauss, J. , Laboor, S. and Boike, J. (2020): Fast response of cold ice-rich permafrost in northeast Siberia to a warming climate , Nature Communications, 11 (1) . doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-15725-8


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