Using the deuterium isotope composition of permafrost meltwater to constrain thermokarst lake contributions to atmospheric CH4 during the last deglaciation

TitleUsing the deuterium isotope composition of permafrost meltwater to constrain thermokarst lake contributions to atmospheric CH4 during the last deglaciation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsBrosius L.S, Anthony K.MWalter, Grosse G., Chanton J.P, Farquharson L.M, Overduin P.P, Meyer H.
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research-BiogeosciencesJournal of Geophysical Research-BiogeosciencesJournal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences
Volume117
Date PublishedFeb 25
ISBN Number0148-0227
Accession NumberISI:000300820000001
Keywordsabrupt climate-change, arctic ecosystems, fresh-water environments, glacial maximum, ground ice, h-2-forming n-5,n-10-methylenetetrahydromethanopterin dehydrogenase, holocene temperature, methanobacterium-thermoautotrophicum, northern seward peninsula, paleoclimate signals
Abstract

Thermokarst lakes are thought to have been an important source of methane (CH4) during the last deglaciation when atmospheric CH4 concentrations increased rapidly. Here we demonstrate that meltwater from permafrost ice serves as an H source to CH4 production in thermokarst lakes, allowing for region-specific reconstructions of delta D-CH4 emissions from Siberian and North American lakes. delta D-CH4 reflects regionally varying delta D values of precipitation incorporated into ground ice at the time of its formation. Late Pleistocene-aged permafrost ground ice was the dominant H source to CH4 production in primary thermokarst lakes, whereas Holocene-aged permafrost ground ice contributed H to CH4 production in later generation lakes. We found that Alaskan thermokarst lake delta D-CH4 was higher (-334 +/- 17 parts per thousand) than Siberian lake delta D-CH4 (-381 +/- 18 parts per thousand). Weighted mean delta D-CH4 values for Beringian lakes ranged from -385 parts per thousand to -382 parts per thousand over the deglacial period. Bottom-up estimates suggest that Beringian thermokarst lakes contributed 15 +/- 4 Tg CH4 yr(-1) to the atmosphere during the Younger Dryas and 25 +/- 5 Tg CH4 yr(-1) during the Preboreal period. These estimates are supported by independent, top-down isotope mass balance calculations based on ice core delta D-CH4 and delta C-13(CH4) records. Both approaches suggest that thermokarst lakes and boreal wetlands together were important sources of deglacial CH4.

Short TitleJ Geophys Res-BiogeoJ Geophys Res-Biogeo
Alternate JournalJ Geophys Res-Biogeo