Articles | Volume 13, issue 22
Biogeosciences, 13, 6121–6138, 2016

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

Biogeosciences, 13, 6121–6138, 2016

Research article 14 Nov 2016

Research article | 14 Nov 2016

Contrasting composition of terrigenous organic matter in the dissolved, particulate and sedimentary organic carbon pools on the outer East Siberian Arctic Shelf

Joan A. Salvadó1,2, Tommaso Tesi1,2,3, Marcus Sundbom1,2, Emma Karlsson1,2, Martin Kruså1,2, Igor P. Semiletov4,5,6, Elena Panova4, and Örjan Gustafsson1,2 Joan A. Salvadó et al.
  • 1Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry (ACES), Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 3CNR-National Research Council of Italy, ISMAR-Marine Sciences Institute in Bologna, Via P. Gobetti 101, 40129 Bologna, Italy
  • 4Tomsk National Research Politechnical University, Tomsk, Russia
  • 5Pacific Oceanological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences Far Eastern Branch, Vladivostok 690041, Russia
  • 6International Arctic Research Center, University Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA

Abstract. Fluvial discharge and coastal erosion of the permafrost-dominated East Siberian Arctic delivers large quantities of terrigenous organic carbon (Terr-OC) to marine waters. The composition and fate of the remobilized Terr-OC needs to be better constrained as it impacts the potential for a climate–carbon feedback. In the present study, the bulk isotope (δ13C and Δ14C) and macromolecular (lignin-derived phenols) composition of the cross-shelf exported organic carbon (OC) in different marine pools is evaluated. For this purpose, as part of the SWERUS-C3 expedition (July–September 2014), sediment organic carbon (SOC) as well as water column (from surface and near-bottom seawater) dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and particulate organic carbon (POC) samples were collected along the outer shelves of the Kara Sea, Laptev Sea and East Siberian Sea. The results show that the Lena River and the DOC may have a preferential role in the transport of Terr-OC to the outer shelf. DOC concentrations (740–3600 µg L−1) were 1 order of magnitude higher than POC (20–360 µg L−1), with higher concentrations towards the Lena River plume. The δ13C signatures in the three carbon pools varied from −23.9 ± 1.9 ‰ in the SOC, −26.1 ± 1.2 ‰ in the DOC and −27.1 ± 1.9 ‰ in the POC. The Δ14C values ranged between −395 ± 83 (SOC), −226 ± 92 (DOC) and −113 ± 122 ‰ (POC). These stable and radiocarbon isotopes were also different between the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea. Both DOC and POC showed a depleted and younger trend off the Lena River plume. Further, the Pacific inflow and the sea-ice coverage, which works as a barrier preventing the input of “young” DOC and POC, seem to have a strong influence in these carbon pools, presenting older and more enriched δ13C signatures under the sea-ice extent. Lignin phenols exhibited higher OC-normalized concentrations in the SOC (0.10–2.34 mg g−1 OC) and DOC (0.08–2.40 mg g−1 OC) than in the POC (0.03–1.14 mg g−1 OC). The good relationship between lignin and Δ14C signatures in the DOC suggests that a significant fraction of the outer-shelf DOC comes from “young” Terr-OC. By contrast, the slightly negative correlation between lignin phenols and Δ14C signatures in POC, with higher lignin concentrations in older POC from near-bottom waters, may reflect the off-shelf transport of OC from remobilized permafrost in the nepheloid layer. Syringyl ∕ vanillyl and cinnamyl ∕ vannillyl phenol ratios presented distinct clustering between DOC, POC and SOC, implying that those pools may be carrying different Terr-OC of partially different origin. Moreover, 3,5-dihydroxybenzoic acid to vanillyl phenol ratios and p-coumaric acid to ferulic acid ratios, used as a diagenetic indicators, enhanced in POC and SOC, suggesting more degradation within these pools. Overall, the key contrast between enhanced lignin yields both in the youngest DOC and the oldest POC samples reflects a significant decoupling of terrestrial OC sources and pathways.

Short summary
Fluvial discharge and coastal erosion of the permafrost-dominated East Siberian Arctic delivers large quantities of terrigenous organic carbon (Terr-OC) to marine waters. We assessed its fate and composition in different marine pools with a suite of biomarkers. The dissolved organic carbon is transporting off-shelf “young” and fresh vascular plant material, while sedimentary and near-bottom particulate organic carbon preferentially carries old organic carbon released from thawing permafrost.
Final-revised paper