Divergent changes in particulate and mineral-associated organic carbon upon permafrost thaw

Futing Liu, Shuqi Qin, Kai Fang, Leiyi Chen, Yunfeng Peng, Pete Smith, Yuanhe Yang* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
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Permafrost thaw can stimulate microbial decomposition and induce soil carbon (C) loss, potentially triggering a positive C-climate feedback. However, earlier observations have concentrated on bulk soil C dynamics upon permafrost thaw, with limited evidence involving soil C fractions. Here, we explore how the functionally distinct fractions, including particulate and mineral-associated organic C (POC and MAOC) as well as iron-bound organic C (OC-Fe), respond to permafrost thaw using systematic measurements derived from one permafrost thaw sequence and five additional thermokarst-impacted sites on the Tibetan Plateau. We find that topsoil POC content substantially decreases, while MAOC content remains stable and OC-Fe accumulates due to the enriched Fe oxides after permafrost thaw. Moreover, the proportion of MAOC and OC-Fe increases along the thaw sequence and at most of the thermokarst-impacted sites. The relatively enriched stable soil C fractions would alleviate microbial decomposition and weaken its feedback to climate warming over long-term thermokarst development.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5073
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Early online date29 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31988102, 31825006, 91837312, and 32101332), the Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research (STEP) program (2019QZKK0106 and 2019QZKK0302), and the Fundamental Research Foundation of Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAFYBB2020MA008).


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