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Large loss of CO2 in winter observed across the northern permafrost region

  • Susan M. Natali
  • Frans-Jan Parmentier
  • Norbert Pirk
  • Donatella Zona
Publishing year: 2019
Language: English
Pages: 852-857
Publication/Series: Nature Climate Change
Volume: 9
Issue: 11
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Nature Research
Additional info: Cited By :1 Export Date: 15 November 2019

Abstract english

Recent warming in the Arctic, which has been amplified during the winter1–3, greatly enhances microbial decomposition of soil organic matter and subsequent release of carbon dioxide (CO2)4. However, the amount of CO2 released in winter is not known and has not been well represented by ecosystem models or empirically based estimates5,6. Here we synthesize regional in situ observations of CO2 flux from Arctic and boreal soils to assess current and future winter carbon losses from the northern permafrost domain. We estimate a contemporary loss of 1,662 TgC per year from the permafrost region during the winter season (October–April). This loss is greater than the average growing season carbon uptake for this region estimated from process models (−1,032 TgC per year). Extending model predictions to warmer conditions up to 2100 indicates that winter CO2 emissions will increase 17% under a moderate mitigation scenario—Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5—and 41% under business-as-usual emissions scenario—Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5. Our results provide a baseline for winter CO2 emissions from northern terrestrial regions and indicate that enhanced soil CO2 loss due to winter warming may offset growing season carbon uptake under future climatic conditions. © 2019, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.


  • Climate Research


  • ISSN: 1758-6798
Frans-Jan Parmentier
E-mail: frans-jan [dot] parmentier [at] nateko [dot] lu [dot] se

Associate professor

Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science



Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
Lund University
Sölvegatan 12
S-223 62 Lund

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