DOI: 10.1029/2023jg007590 ISSN: 2169-8953

Carbon Stocks and Potential Greenhouse Gas Production of Permafrost‐Affected Active Floodplains in the Lena River Delta

Tanja Herbst, Matthias Fuchs, Susanne Liebner, Claire C. Treat
  • Paleontology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Soil Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ecology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Forestry


Arctic warming increases the degradation of permafrost soils but little is known about floodplain soils in the permafrost region. This study quantifies soil organic carbon (SOC) and soil nitrogen stocks, and the potential CH4 and CO2 production from seven cores in the active floodplains in the Lena River Delta, Russia. The soils were sandy but highly heterogeneous, containing deep, organic rich deposits with >60% SOC stored below 30 cm. The mean SOC stocks in the top 1 m were 12.9 ± 6.0 kg C m−2. Grain size analysis and radiocarbon ages indicated highly dynamic environments with sediment re‐working. Potential CH4 and CO2 production from active floodplains was assessed using a 1‐year incubation at 20°C under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Cumulative aerobic CO2 production mineralized a mean 4.6 ± 2.8% of initial SOC. The mean cumulative aerobic:anaerobic C production ratio was 2.3 ± 0.9. Anaerobic CH4 production comprised 50 ± 9% of anaerobic C mineralization; rates were comparable or exceeded those for permafrost region organic soils. Potential C production from the incubations was correlated with total organic carbon and varied strongly over space (among cores) and depth (active layer vs. permafrost). This study provides valuable information on the carbon cycle dynamics from active floodplains in the Lena River Delta and highlights the key spatial variability, both among sites and with depth, and the need to include these dynamic permafrost environments in future estimates of the permafrost carbon‐climate feedback.

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