U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


Climate Change and Permafrost Carbon Feedback
Published: April 09, 2015
Posted: November 25, 2015

Large quantities of organic carbon are stored in frozen soils (permafrost) within Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. A warming climate can induce environmental changes that accelerate the microbial breakdown of organic carbon and the release of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane. This feedback can accelerate climate change, but the magnitude and timing of greenhouse gas emissions from these regions and their impact on climate change remain uncertain. In a recent study, researchers find that current evidence suggests a gradual and prolonged release of greenhouse gas emissions in a warming climate and present a research strategy with which to target poorly understood aspects of permafrost carbon dynamics.

Reference: Schuur, E. A. G., A. D. McGuire, C. Schädel, G. Grosse, J. W. Harden, D. J. Hayes, G. Hugelius. C. D. Koven, P. Kuhry, D. M. Lawrence, S. M. Natali, D. Olefeldt, V. E. Romanovsky, K. Schaefer, M. R. Turetsky, C. C. Treat, and J. E. Vonk. “Climate Change and the Permafrost Carbon Feedback,” Nature 520, 171–79. DOI: 10.1038/nature14338. (Reference link)

Contact: Jared DeForest, SC-23, (301) 903-3251, Daniel Stover, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0289
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Terrestrial Ecosystem Science
  • Research Area: Carbon Cycle, Nutrient Cycling
  • Research Area: Microbes and Communities

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER

 

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