06 May 2022
06 May 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Lateral carbon export has low impact on the net ecosystem carbon balance of a polygonal tundra catchment

Lutz Beckebanze1,2, Benjamin Reade Kreps Runkle1,3, Josefine Walz1,4, Christian Wille5, David Holl1,2, Manuel Helbig1,6, Julia Boike7,8, Torsten Sachs5, and Lars Kutzbach1,2 Lutz Beckebanze et al.
  • 1Institute of Soil Science, Universität Hamburg, Germany
  • 2Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN), Universität Hamburg, Germany
  • 3Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, USA
  • 4Climate Impacts Research Centre, Institute for Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå University, 98107 Abisko
  • 5Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam – Deutsches Geo Forschungs Zentrum (GFZ), Potsdam, Germany
  • 6Department of Physics & Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada
  • 7Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam, Germany
  • 8Department of Geography, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany

Abstract. Permafrost-affected soils contain large quantities of soil organic carbon (SOC). Changes in the SOC pool of a particular ecosystem can be related to its net ecosystem carbon balance (NECB) in which the balance of carbon (C) influxes and effluxes is expressed. For polygonal tundra landscapes, accounts of ecosystem carbon balances in the literature are often solely based on estimates of vertical carbon fluxes. To fill this gap, we present data regarding the lateral export rates of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from a polygonal tundra site in the North-Siberian Lena River Delta, Russia. We use water discharge observations in combination with concentration measurements of water-borne carbon to derive the lateral carbon fluxes from one season (2 June–8 September 2014 for DOC, 8 June–8 September 2014 for DIC). To put the lateral C fluxes into context, we furthermore present the surface–atmosphere eddy covariance fluxes of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) from this study site.

The results show cumulative annual lateral DIC and DOC fluxes of 0.31–0.38 g m-2 and 0.06–0.08 g m-2, respectively. Vertical turbulent fluxes of CO2-C and CH4-C accumulated to -19.0 ± 1.2 g m-2 and 1.0 ± 0.02 g m-2 during the 93-day observation period (8 June–8 September 2014). Thus, the lateral C export represented about 2 % of the net ecosystem exchange of CO2 (NEE). However, the relationship between lateral and surface–atmosphere fluxes changed over the observation period. At the beginning of the growing season (early June), the lateral C flux outpaced the surface-directed net vertical turbulent CO2 flux, causing the polygonal tundra landscape to be a net carbon source during this time of the year. Later in the growing season, the vertical turbulent CO2 flux dominated the NECB. Notably, the surface–atmosphere C flux served as a good approximation for the NECB at our study site during the growing season.

Lutz Beckebanze et al.

Status: open (until 17 Jun 2022)

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Lutz Beckebanze et al.

Lutz Beckebanze et al.


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Short summary
In this study, we present observations of lateral and vertical carbon fluxes from a permafrost-affected study site in the Russian Arctic. From this dataset we estimate the net ecosystem carbon balance for this study site. We show that lateral carbon export has a low impact on the net ecosystem carbon balance during the complete study period (3 months). Nevertheless, our results also show that lateral carbon export can exceed vertical carbon uptake at the beginning of the growing season.