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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 13, issue 9
Clim. Past, 13, 1213-1226, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-13-1213-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Special issue: Climate–carbon–cryosphere interactions in the...

Clim. Past, 13, 1213-1226, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-13-1213-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 22 Sep 2017

Research article | 22 Sep 2017

Sources and characteristics of terrestrial carbon in Holocene-scale sediments of the East Siberian Sea

Kirsi Keskitalo1, Tommaso Tesi1,3,4, Lisa Bröder1,3, August Andersson1,3, Christof Pearce2,3, Martin Sköld5, Igor P. Semiletov6,7,8, Oleg V. Dudarev7,8, and Örjan Gustafsson1,3 Kirsi Keskitalo et al.
  • 1Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 3Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 4CNR-National Research Council of Italy, ISMAR-Marine Science Institute, 40129 Bologna, Italy
  • 5Department of Mathematics, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 6International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA
  • 7Pacific Oceanological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladivostok, 690041, Russia
  • 8Tomsk Polytechnic University, Tomsk, 634050, Russia

Abstract. Thawing of permafrost carbon (PF-C) due to climate warming can remobilise considerable amounts of terrestrial carbon from its long-term storage to the marine environment. PF-C can be then be buried in sediments or remineralised to CO2 with implications for the carbon–climate feedback. Studying historical sediment records during past natural climate changes can help us to understand the response of permafrost to current climate warming. In this study, two sediment cores collected from the East Siberian Sea were used to study terrestrial organic carbon sources, composition and degradation during the past  ∼ 9500calyrs BP. CuO-derived lignin and cutin products (i.e., compounds solely biosynthesised in terrestrial plants) combined with δ13C suggest that there was a higher input of terrestrial organic carbon to the East Siberian Sea between  ∼ 9500 and 8200calyrs BP than in all later periods. This high input was likely caused by marine transgression and permafrost destabilisation in the early Holocene climatic optimum. Based on source apportionment modelling using dual-carbon isotope (Δ14C, δ13C) data, coastal erosion releasing old Pleistocene permafrost carbon was identified as a significant source of organic matter translocated to the East Siberian Sea during the Holocene.

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In this study we investigate land-to-ocean transfer and the fate of permafrost carbon in the East Siberian Sea from the early Holocene until the present day. Our results suggest that there was a high input of terrestrial organic carbon to the East Siberian Sea during the last glacial–interglacial period caused by permafrost destabilisation. This material was mainly characterised as relict Pleistocene permafrost deposited via coastal erosion as a result of the sea level rise.
In this study we investigate land-to-ocean transfer and the fate of permafrost carbon in the...
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