Deglacial permafrost carbon dynamics in MPI-ESM.

Schneider von Deimling, Thomas, Kleinen, Thomas, Hugelius, Gustaf, Knoblauch, Christian, Beer, Christian and Brovkin, Victor (2018) Deglacial permafrost carbon dynamics in MPI-ESM. Open Access Climate of the Past Discussions . pp. 1-39. DOI 10.5194/cp-2018-54.

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We have developed a new module to calculate soil organic carbon (SOC) accumulation in perennially frozen ground in the land surface model JSBACH. Running this offline version of MPI-ESM we have modelled permafrost carbon accumulation and release from the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) to the Pre-industrial (PI). Our simulated near-surface PI permafrost extent of 16.9Miokm2 is close to observational evidence. Glacial boundary conditions, especially ice sheet coverage, result in profoundly different spatial patterns of glacial permafrost extent. Deglacial warming leads to large-scale changes in soil temperatures, manifested in permafrost disappearance in southerly regions, and permafrost aggregation in formerly glaciated grid cells. In contrast to the large spatial shift in simulated permafrost occurrence, we infer an only moderate increase of total LGM permafrost area (18.3Miokm2) – together with pronounced changes in the depth of seasonal thaw. Reconstructions suggest a larger spread of glacial permafrost towards more southerly regions, but with a highly uncertain extent of non-continuous permafrost.

Compared to a control simulation without describing the transport of SOC into perennially frozen ground, the implementation of our newly developed module for simulating permafrost SOC accumulation leads to a doubling of simulated LGM permafrost SOC storage (amounting to a total of ~150PgC). Despite LGM temperatures favouring a larger permafrost extent, simulated cold glacial temperatures – together with low precipitation and low CO2 levels – limit vegetation productivity and therefore prevent a larger glacial SOC build-up in our model. Changes in physical and biogeochemical boundary conditions during deglacial warming lead to an increase in mineral SOC storage towards the Holocene (168PgC at PI), which is below observational estimates (575PgC in continuous and discontinuous permafrost). Additional model experiments clarified the sensitivity of simulated SOC storage to model parameters, affecting long-term soil carbon respiration rates and simulated active layer depths. Rather than a steady increase in carbon release from the LGM to PI as a consequence of deglacial permafrost degradation, our results suggest alternating phases of soil carbon accumulation and loss as an effect of dynamic changes in permafrost extent, active layer depths, soil litter input, and heterotrophic respiration.

Document Type: Article
Refereed: No
Open Access Journal?: Yes
Publisher: Copernicus
Projects: PalMod in-kind
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2018 07:55
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2018 07:55

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