Article tcd-9-77-2015

Article tcd-9-77-2015
Discussion Paper
The Cryosphere Discuss., 9, 77–114, 2015
www.the-cryosphere-discuss.net/9/77/2015/
doi:10.5194/tcd-9-77-2015
© Author(s) 2015. CC Attribution 3.0 License.
This discussion paper is/has been under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).
Please refer to the corresponding final paper in TC if available.
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M. Fritz , T. Opel , G. Tanski , U. Herzschuh
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H. Lantuit
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, H. Meyer , A. Eulenburg , and
Discussion Paper
Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in Arctic
ground ice
TCD
9, 77–114, 2015
Dissolved organic
carbon (DOC) in
Arctic ground ice
M. Fritz et al.
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Received: 5 November 2014 – Accepted: 13 December 2014 – Published: 7 January 2015
Correspondence to: M. Fritz ([email protected])
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Published by Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union.
Discussion Paper
Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research,
Department of Periglacial Research, Telegrafenberg A43, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
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Potsdam University, Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences,
Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24–25, 14476 Potsdam-Golm, Germany
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Dissolved organic
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Thermal permafrost degradation and coastal erosion in the Arctic remobilize substantial amounts of organic carbon (OC) and nutrients which have been accumulated in
late Pleistocene and Holocene unconsolidated deposits. Their vulnerability to thaw
subsidence, collapsing coastlines and irreversible landscape change is largely due to
the presence of large amounts of massive ground ice such as ice wedges. However,
ground ice has not, until now, been considered to be a source of dissolved organic
carbon (DOC), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and other elements, which are important for ecosystems and carbon cycling. Here we show, using geochemical data from
a large number of different ice bodies throughout the Arctic, that ice wedges have the
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greatest potential for DOC storage with a maximum of 28.6 mg L (mean: 9.6 mg L ).
Variation in DOC concentration is positively correlated with and explained by the concentrations and relative amounts of typically terrestrial cations such as Mg2+ and K+ .
DOC sequestration into ground ice was more effective during the late Pleistocene than
during the Holocene, which can be explained by rapid sediment and OC accumulation,
the prevalence of more easily degradable vegetation and immediate incorporation into
permafrost. We assume that pristine snowmelt is able to leach considerable amounts
of well-preserved and highly bioavailable DOC as well as other elements from surface sediments, which are rapidly stored in ground ice, especially in ice wedges, even
before further degradation. In the Yedoma region ice wedges represent a significant
DOC (45.2 Tg) and DIC (33.6 Tg) pool in permafrost areas and a fresh-water reservoir
of 4172 km3 . This study underlines the need to discriminate between particulate OC
and DOC to assess the availability and vulnerability of the permafrost carbon pool for
ecosystems and climate feedback upon mobilization.
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Dissolved organic
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Vast parts of the coastal lowlands of Siberia, Alaska and Canada consist of unconsolidated organic-rich fine-grained deposits. These sediments, that occur as glacigenic
and Yedoma-type sediments (including their degradation forms as thermokarst), are
characterized by high ground ice contents, both on a volumetric (vol%) and gravimetric (weight %) basis (Brown et al., 1997; Zhang et al., 1999; Grosse et al., 2013;
Schirrmeister et al., 2013). Yedoma deposits, for instance, are characterized by absolute ground ice contents, excluding ice wedges, of 40–60 weight % (Schirrmeister et al.,
2011c). The ice wedges are themselves characterized by volumetric ice contents closing 100 vol% and make much of the subsurface in these Yedoma deposits. Recent
calculations of ice-wedge volumes in East Siberian Pleistocene Yedoma and Holocene
thermokarst deposits show contents of 48 and 7 vol%, respectively (Strauss et al.,
2013). Combining ice wedges and other sediments in Yedoma gives a mean volumetric ground ice content for those regions between 60 and 82 vol% (Zimov et al., 2006a, b;
Schirrmeister et al., 2011b, c; Strauss et al., 2013). High ground ice contents are also
typical for coastal Alaska (43–89 vol%; Kanevskiy et al., 2011, 2013) and the western
Canadian Arctic (50–60 vol%; French, 1998). The presence of massive ice (i.e. gravimetric ice content > 250 % on dry soil weight basis; cf. van Everdingen, 1998) and
excess ice, which is visible ice that exceeds the pore space, is the key factor for the
vulnerability of permafrost to warmer temperatures and mechanical disturbance, as ice
melt will initiate surface subsidence and thermal collapse, also known as thermokarst
(Czudek and Demek, 1970).
Permafrost soils hold approximately 50 % of the global soil carbon pool (Tarnocai
et al., 2009; Hugelius et al., 2014), mostly as particulate organic carbon (POC). These
calculations of permafrost OC stocks, however, subtract the ground ice content (Zimov
et al., 2006a, b; Tarnocai et al., 2009; Strauss et al., 2013; Hugelius et al., 2013, 2014)
and therefore disregard the OC, especially the amount of dissolved organic carbon
(DOC), contained in large ground ice bodies such as ice wedges and other types of
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Dissolved organic
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M. Fritz et al.
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massive ice. Although these numbers might be small compared to the POC stocks in
peat and mineral soils, DOC from permafrost is chemically labile (Vonk et al., 2013a, b)
and may directly enter local food webs. Due to its lability, DOC can become quickly
mineralized by microbial communities and photochemical reactions (Battin et al., 2008;
Vonk et al., 2013a, b; Cory et al., 2014) and returned to the atmosphere when released
due to permafrost degradation (Schuur et al., 2009; Schuur and Abbot, 2011).
As mentioned above, several studies that have shed light on the POC stocks contained in permafrost (e.g. Zimov et al., 2006a; Tarnocai et al., 2009; Schirrmeister et al.,
2011b; Strauss et al., 2013; Hugelius et al., 2013, 2014; Walter Anthony et al., 2014)
and how much of these stocks is potentially mobilized due to thermal permafrost degradation and coastal erosion (Rachold et al., 2004; Jorgenson and Brown, 2005; Lantuit
et al., 2009; McGuire et al., 2009; Ping et al., 2011; Schneider von Deimling et al.,
2012; Vonk et al., 2012; Günther et al., 2013; Wegner et al., 2014). DOC fluxes have
also been quantified in western Siberian catchments (Frey and Smith, 2005) and monitoring efforts of the large rivers draining permafrost areas and entering into the Arctic
Ocean have provided robust estimations of the riverine DOC export (Raymond et al.,
2007; McGuire et al., 2009). However, DOC stocks in permafrost ground ice and the
resulting potential DOC fluxes in response to coastal erosion and thermal degradation
are still unknown (Guo et al., 2007; Duo et al., 2008). At this moment, any inference
about DOC stocks in permafrost and fluxes from permafrost is derived from measurements in secondary systems such as lake (e.g. Kling et al., 1991; Walter Anthony et al.,
2014), river (e.g. Benner et al., 2004; Finlay et al., 2006; Guo et al., 2007; Raymond
et al., 2007; Holmes et al., 2012) and ocean waters (e.g. Opsahl and Benner, 1997;
Dittmar and Kattner, 2003; Cooper et al., 2005) or from laboratory experiments (Dou
et al., 2008). In contrast, the purpose of this study was to sample and measure DOC
at the source (i.e. permafrost) directly, before it gets altered by natural processes such
as exposition to the atmosphere, lithosphere and hydrosphere.
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– to quantify DOC contents in different massive ground ice types,
– and to put ground-ice-related DOC stocks into the context of the terrestrial Arctic
OC pools and fluxes.
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– to calculate DOC stocks in massive ground ice at the Arctic level,
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– to introduce relationships between organic and inorganic geochemical parameters, stable water isotopes, stratigraphy, and genetic and spatial characteristics
to shed light on the origin of DOC and the processes of carbon sequestration in
ground ice,
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Here, we present an Arctic-wide study on DOC stocks in ground ice, aiming at incorporating massive ground ice into the Arctic permafrost carbon budget. The specific
objectives of our study are:
TCD
9, 77–114, 2015
Dissolved organic
carbon (DOC) in
Arctic ground ice
M. Fritz et al.
Title Page
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Conclusions
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This study was carried out along the coastal lowlands of east Siberia, Alaska and
northwest Canada (Fig. 1). All study sites, except for the Fairbanks area, are located
within the zone of continuous permafrost. The sites cover a wide and representative
range of geomorphological settings, terrain units and ground-ice conditions (Table 1).
All studied ground ice bodies were found in ice-rich unconsolidated Holocene and late
Pleistocene deposits. Outcrops in permafrost were either accessible due to strong rates
of coastal erosion along the ice-rich coasts forming steep exposures (Forbes, 2011) or
were technically constructed for research purposes such as the CRREL Permafrost
Tunnel in Barrow or for mining such as the Vault Creek Tunnel near Fairbanks, Alaska.
Coastal outcrops in Siberia were dominated by large late Pleistocene ice wedges
reaching up to 20 m in depth and up to 6 m in width (Schirrmeister et al., 2011c). They
formed syngenetically during periods of rapid sedimentation of Ice Complex deposits,
also known as Yedoma. Holocene epigenetic and syngenetic ice wedges of 1–6 m in
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Study area and study sites
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A total number of 101 ice samples from 29 ice bodies and 3 surface water samples from
3 thermokarst lakes were studied. Ice blocks were cut with a chain saw in the field and
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kept frozen until further processing with a band saw in a cold lab at –15 C for removal
of partially melted margins and cleaning of the edges. Samples ≥ 50 mL were thawed
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at 4 C in pre-cleaned glass beakers (purified water) covered with pre-combusted aluminium foil (550 ◦ C). Meltwater was filtered with gum-free syringes equipped with glass
fibre filters (Whatman™ GF/F; pore size: 0.7 µm) and acidified with 20 µL HClsuprapur
Dissolved organic
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Arctic ground ice
M. Fritz et al.
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(30 %) to pH < 2 in order to prevent microbial conversion. DOC concentrations (mg L )
were measured with a high-temperature (680 ◦ C) combustion total organic carbon analyzer (Shimadzu TOC-VCPH ). Internal acidification is used to convert inorganic carbon
into CO2 , which is stripped out of solution. Non-purgeable organic carbon compounds
are combusted and converted to CO2 and measured by a non-dispersive infrared de-
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Laboratory analyses
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Material and methods
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depth and < 1.0–3.5 m in width were encountered in exposed thermokarst depressions
of late glacial to Holocene origin and within the Holocene peaty cover deposits. Besides
ice wedges, other types of massive ground ice were sampled, such as buried glacier
ice, buried lake ice and a fossil snow patch (Fig. 2). In some cases, massive ground ice
occupied as much as 90 vol% of 40 m coastal exposures eroding up to 10 m a−1 (Lantuit
et al., 2012). The focus of this paper is on massive ground ice; non-massive ice (in
particular pore ice and intrasedimental ice such as ice lenses) was excluded from this
first attempt to calculate DOC stocks in ground ice, because of the complex genetic
processes associated with the interaction with enclosing sediment and the relatively
small amount of ice relative to massive ice bodies. It is, however, not considered to be
insignificant.
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Dissolved organic
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M. Fritz et al.
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tector (NDIR). The device-specific detection limit is 0.4 µ g L . For each sample, one
measurement with three to five repetitions was performed and results were averaged.
Further analyses for hydrochemical characterization included pH, electrical conductivity, major anions and cations, and stable water isotopes (δ 18 O, δD). Stratigraphic
investigations and stable water isotopes were used to differentiate between genetic ice
types and to assess their approximate age (i.e. Holocene and late Pleistocene). Anal18
yses of δ O and δD were carried out with a mass spectrometer (Finnigan MAT DeltaS) using the water-gas equilibration technique (for further information see Horita et al.,
1989; Meyer et al., 2000). The isotopic composition is expressed in delta per mil notation (δ, ‰) relative to the Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water (VSMOW) standard.
The reproducibility derived from long-term standard measurements is established with
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1σ better than ±0.1 ‰ for δ O and ±0.8 ‰ for δD (Meyer et al., 2000). Samples for
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ion analysis were passed through cellulose-acetate filters (Whatman CA; pore size
0.45 µm). Afterwards, samples for the cation analyses were acidified with HNO3 suprapur
(65 %) to prevent microbial conversion processes and adsorptive accretion, whereas
samples for anion analyses were kept cool. The cation content was analysed by Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICP-OES, Perkin-Elmer Optima 3000 XL), while the anion content was determined by Ion Chromatography (IC,
Dionex DX-320). Hydrogen carbonate concentrations were measured by titration with
0.01 M HCl using an automatic titrator (Metrohm 794 Basic Titrino). Based on HCO−
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concentrations we approximated the dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) concentrations
using the molecular weights.
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Statistical methods
Principal component analysis (PCA)
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Principal components analysis (PCA) was used to summarize the variation in a biplot by reducing dimensionality of the data while retaining most of the variation in the
data set (Jolliffe, 2002). Ordinally scaled variables (i.e. chemical data set) were log83
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Results
9, 77–114, 2015
Dissolved organic
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Arctic ground ice
M. Fritz et al.
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A powerful tool to explore the relationship between a single continuous response variable (DOC concentration) and multiple explanatory variables is a regression tree (Zuur
et al., 2007). Tree models perform well with non-linearity and interaction between explanatory variables. UTM is used to find interactions missed by other methods and also
indicate the relative importance of different explanatory variables. UTM was performed
using the computing environment R and Brodgar 2.6.5 software for Windows (ter Braak
and Šmilauer, 2002).
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Univariate tree models (UTM)
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transformed, centered and standardized except for pH, δ O, δD, latitude, and longitude not being log-transformed due the inter-sample invariance. Ice types (ice wedge,
buried lake ice, basal glacier ice, snow pack ice, surface water), relative age (Pleistocene, Holocene, recent) were coded with dummy variables and were superimposed
as inactive supplementary variables on the ordination plot to enable rough assumptions about the relationship between chemical composition, ground ice formation and
age. The whole data set was reduced to 92 samples and 23 variables by removing
those containing missing values. PCA was performed with focusing on inter-species
correlation and was implemented using CANOCO 4.5 software for Windows (ter Braak
and Šmilauer, 2002).
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4.1
DOC and DIC concentrations
Table 2 provides an overview of mean DOC and DIC concentrations and range for
each ground ice type. We found strong variations of DOC concentrations within and
across individual ground ice types. The highest DOC concentrations were found in ice
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wedges with a mean of 9.6 mg L and a maximum of 28.6 mg L . Late Pleistocene ice
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Dissolved organic
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With the help of a correlation matrix environmental processes and chemical relationships can be visualized that may help to explain the sequestration of DOC into ground
ice. Pearson’s correlation coefficients were calculated and plotted in a correlation matrix in order to assess the degree of association between DOC, chemical properties,
stable water isotopes and spatial variables (Fig. 4). A strong positive correlation suggests a mutual driving mechanism whereas negative values imply an inverse asso2+
ciation. Most importantly, DOC is positively related to the relative proportion of Mg
in the cation spectrum (R = 0.65). Further positive relations between DOC and other
+
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parameters, although less pronounced, involve K (R = 0.36), HCO3 (R = 0.36) and
latitude (R = 0.38). The only significantly negative relationship with regard to DOC exists together with Na+ (R = −0.44) (Fig. 4). Climate-driven parameters such as δ 18 O,
δD, and D-excess do not explain DOC concentrations.
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Correlation matrix
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wedges were characterized by higher mean DOC concentrations than Holocene ones
with 11.1 and 7.3 mg L−1 , respectively. Other ice types had average DOC concentra−1
tions between 1.8 and 3.0 mg L and their range was narrower than in ice wedges
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(Table 2, Fig. 3). Modern surface water gave DOC values between 5.5 and 5.8 mg L .
The highest DIC concentrations were found in modern surface water with on average
22.6 mg L−1 and a maximum of 40.2 mg L−1 (Table 2, Fig. 3). DIC concentrations were
lower in ground ice but varied strongly across ice types. With 8.5 mg L−1 late Pleistocene ice wedges were characterized by almost four times higher mean DIC concen−1
trations than Holocene ones (2.2 mg L ; Fig. 3). Buried glacier and lake ice had similar
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mean concentrations (around 9 mg L ) but showed large ranges; from values around
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zero up to 25 mg L .
It is obvious that ice wedges were characterized by highest mean DOC concentrations but rather low DIC concentrations compared to other ice types. Basal glacier ice,
buried lake ice, and snow pack ice show mean DOC concentrations between 1.8 and
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3.0 mg L .
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Dissolved organic
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Arctic ground ice
M. Fritz et al.
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The first two axes of the PCA explain 43.9 % of the variation in the data (Fig. 5). Cl− and
Na+ ions are positively correlated with the first axis in descending order of correlation,
2+
2+
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whereas Ca , Mg , and HCO3 ions and pH are negatively correlated. Parameters
positively correlated with PCA axis 2 include information on the ice origin as Pleistocene and basal glacier ice. In contrast, δD, δ 18 O, DOC concentration, and information on the ice origin as ice wedge and Holocene ground ice are negatively correlated
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with PCA axis 2. Variations in SO2−
4 and NO3 concentration as well as information on
latitude and longitude are not correlated with the first two PCA axes. The separation of
ice samples in the PCA ordination plot leads to three distinct groups: (1) Holocene ice
wedges and recent surface water samples are entirely negatively related to the second
axis, whereas (2) Pleistocene ice wedges are entirely negatively related to the first axis.
(3) Pleistocene basal glacier ice and buried lake ice is positively related to the second
axis. This separation might be related to the different processes of ice formation and
climate variation.
+
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Na and Cl -dominated samples represent Holocene ice wedges from coastal cliffs
in east Siberia (Muostakh Island and Oyogos Yar). The majority of ice wedges with
a terrestrial ion composition (Mg2+ , Ca2+ , HCO−
3 ) are of late Pleistocene age in areas
such as Mamontov Klyk, Bol’shoy Lyakhovsky Island, Yukon Coast and the Fairbanks
area. The first axis probably separates samples with a strong marine impact at its upper
end from those with a rather continental background. The second axis might represent
climate conditions. The majority of Pleistocene ice samples with a depleted stable water isotope composition show positive sample scores whereas Holocene ground ice
being enriched in heavy stable water isotopes mostly shows negative sample scores
and therefore plots in the lower part of the PCA (Fig. 5).
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Dissolved organic
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M. Fritz et al.
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DOC stocks in ground ice and relevance to carbon cycling
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Discussion Paper
While the riverine DOC export to the Arctic Ocean has been estimated to as much as
33 Tg a−1 (McGuire et al., 2009), comparable numbers for the DOC input by coastal erosion and thermal permafrost degradation (also known as thermokarst) are not available
yet. This knowledge gap includes the DOC contribution derived from melting ground
ice from ice-rich permafrost. Table 2 provides an overview of DOC contents in different massive ground ice types from the North American and Siberian Arctic. Because of
their wide spatial distribution in Arctic lowlands and the measured DOC concentrations,
we conclude that from massive ground ice types ice wedges hold the greatest poten−1
tial for DOC storage with a maximum of 28.6 mg L . This is in good agreement with
DOC measurements in a so far limited number of ice wedges by Douglas et al. (2011)
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UTM (Fig. 6a) shows that differences in DOC concentrations can be explained according to inorganic geochemical properties. The first two nodes split on Mg2+ with
a threshold value of 16 % of the cation spectrum. The next nodes split according to
+
thresholds in K of 2.30 and 2.65 %, respectively (Fig. 6a). We end up with four statis−1
tically significant groups (i.e. nodes) with different mean DOC concentrations (mg L )
of each group, also showing the number of observations in each group (n). With the
UTM information – that inorganic geochemistry explains the variability in DOC concentration – we can make assumptions about relations between carbon sequestration in
different water types. DOC concentration is not independent from inorganic geochemical composition. Cross validation (Fig. 6b) confirms statistical significance of the model
result.
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Univariate tree model (UTM)
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Dissolved organic
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in Alaska and Vonk et al. (2013b) in east Siberia who showed DOC concentrations of
18.4–68.5 mg L−1 (n = 5) and 8.8–15 mg L−1 (n = 3), respectively.
Ulrich et al. (2014) have calculated maximum wedge ice volumes (WIV), which range
from 31.4 to 63.2 vol% for late Pleistocene Yedoma deposits and from 6.6 to 13.2 vol%
for Holocene thermokarst deposits in east Siberia and Alaska. Strauss et al. (2013)
have shown similar averages for WIV of 48 vol% in late Pleistocene Yedoma and
7.0 vol% for Holocene thermokarst deposits. Together with average DOC concentra−1
3
tions of 11.1 mg L (max. 28.6) this would lead to 5.3 g DOC per m (max. 18.1) for late
Pleistocene ice wedges in the upper late Pleistocene permafrost column (Table 3) and
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a DOC pool of 43.0 Tg DOC based on 416 000 km of undisturbed Yedoma in Beringia
and a mean thickness of 19.4 m (Strauss et al., 2013). DOC stocks in ice wedges in
Holocene thermokarst deposits are much lower with on average 0.51 g m−3 and a max−3
imum of 2.6 g m due to much lower wedge ice volumes (cf. Ulrich et al., 2014) and
slightly lower DOC concentrations (Table 3). With on average 2.2 Tg the Holocene ice
wedge DOC pool is much lower than the late Pleistocene pool, mainly because of lower
WIV, an average thickness of 5.5 m for thermokarst deposits and despite their greater
extent (775 000 km2 ) than undegraded Yedoma deposits (Strauss et al., 2013). Even
stronger differences are characteristic for DIC pools in late Pleistocene ice wedges
(32.9 Tg) compared to Holocene ice wedges (0.66 Tg) in the same areas. Based on
the above-mentioned spatial coverage of Yedoma and thermokarst deposits including
sediment thickness and WIV, we conclude that in the study area ice wedges represent
a significant DOC (45.2 Tg) and DIC (33.6 Tg) pool in permafrost areas and a freshwater reservoir of 4172 km3 (see Table 3).
However, all types of non-massive intrasedimental ice, raising the total ground ice
volume to ∼ 80 % (Schirrmeister et al., 2011b; Strauss et al., 2013), are still excluded.
Unpublished DOC concentrations in non-massive intrasedimental ice from Muostakh
Island (Siberia) and the Yukon Coast (Canada) show overall averages of 327 and
100 mg L−1 , respectively (Fritz, unpublished data). We therefore suggest that incorporating DOC from non-massive ground ice types would lead to a significant rise in
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The origin and sequestration process into ground ice seems to play an important role
on the magnitude and bioavailability of DOC. Sequestration of OC into ground ice is
a complex process that is dependent on water source, freezing process, organic matter
origin and inorganic geochemical signature of the ambient water to form ground ice.
Figures 4 and 6a show that the total mineralization of ground ice is unrelated to
DOC but that the ion composition and therefore the ion source seems to be relevant.
Mg2+ and K+ are the most significant parameters for explaining variations in DOC
2+
+
concentrations (Fig. 6a). Higher Mg and K fractions of the cations spectrum are
positively related to higher DOC concentrations (Fig. 4). We recognize that in the node
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(group) with the highest average DOC concentrations (∅ = 11.9 mg L , n = 40) we
find most of the Pleistocene ice wedges and to a lesser extent Holocene ice wedges
(Fig. 6a). All study areas are represented here. Both, Mg2+ and K+ have typically high
shares in terrestrial water types because Mg and K are major elements in clay minerals
−
2+
2+
and feldspars. In combination with terrestrial HCO3 and Ca the mobility of Mg is
high in Mg/Ca(HCO3 )2 solutions (Gransee and Führs, 2013).
Ice wedges are fed by meltwater from atmospheric sources that has been in contact
with vegetation and sediments of the tundra surface before meltwater infiltrated the frost
cracks in spring. By contrast, glacier ice, buried snow bank ice, and lake ice is primarily
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DOC stocks in permafrost of at least one order of magnitude. However, a differentiation between particulate and dissolved OC in permafrost is not done yet, although
the technical means via rhizon soil moisture sampling is already available on a costand time-efficient basis. Nevertheless, we are aware of the fact that DOC makes up
a limited proportion of the whole permafrost carbon stocks. A cautious estimation of
the ratio of DOC and POC is in the order of ∼ 1/1000 if we consider about 1 wt% total
organic carbon (TOC) in sediments and about 10 mg L−1 DOC in massive ground ice.
This ratio will become much smaller if POC and DOC in the whole permafrost column
would be differentiated.
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fed by atmospheric waters having less interaction with carbon and ion sources. Yet,
the yellowish brown to gray late Pleistocene and the milky-white Holocene ice wedges
have incorporated sediments and organic matter that originates from surface soils and
vegetation debris that was carried along with the meltwater into the frost crack (e.g.
Opel et al., 2011). Leaching of DOC from relatively young surface organic matter takes
place (Guo et al., 2007; Lachniet et al., 2012) as well as dissolution of ions from sediment particles. Snow melt feeding ice wedges strongly attracts leachable components
because of its initial purity. This might be the reason why especially ice wedges contain
relatively high amounts of bioavailable DOC with low-molecular weight compounds that
can be old but remained fresh over millennia (Vonk et al., 2013b).
Principal component analysis clusters ice wedges into two main groups along the
first axis based on Na+ and Cl− dominating Holocene ice wedges in modern coastal
2+
2+
−
settings and Mg , Ca and HCO3 for Pleistocene ice wedges and Holocene ones
being far from coasts (Fig. 5). This pattern depicts the competing influence of maritime
and terrestrial/continental conditions. Distance from the coastline is crucial for the incorporation of marine-derived ions through aerosols such as NaCl via sea spray. While
the Fairbanks area is the only site far inland, all other study sites except for Samoylov
Island in the central Lena River Delta are coastal areas today. However, during the
late Pleistocene global sea level was lower and large parts of the shallow circum-arctic
shelves were subaerially exposed. Present-day coastal sites were located up to hundreds of kilometers inland. Marine ion transport via sea spray is not expected to have
played a role on inland sites but indeed since the rapid marine transgression during
the Holocene that changed far inland sites into coastal ones. Input of sea spray is only
relevant during the open-water season so that a prolonged ice cover during the late
Pleistocene (Nørgaard-Pedersen et al., 2003; Bradley and England, 2008) should have
further reduced the influx of sea salt. Additionally, sustained dry conditions (Carter,
1981; Alfimov and Berman, 2001; Murton, 2009) probably increased eolian input of
terrestrial material into ice wedges which is then directly mirrored in the hydrochemical
signature.
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DOC mobility and quality upon permafrost degradation
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So far we have shown that coastal/maritime and terrestrial environmental conditions
can be differentiated based on inorganic hydrochemistry and that terrestrial surface OC
sources feed the DOC signal in ice wedges. DOC sequestration into ground ice is also
dependent on active layer properties, vegetation cover, vegetation communities, and
deposition rates. Long-term stable surfaces and relatively constant active layer depths
will lead to substantially leached soil layers in terms of DOC (Guo and Macdonald,
2006) and inorganic solutes (Kokelj et al., 2002). Based on ∆14 C values and δ 13 C
ratios on DOC from soil leaching experiments and natural river water samples, Guo
et al. (2007) have shown that intensive leaching of DOC from young and fresh plant
litter and upper soil horizons occurs during the snowmelt period. Later in the season,
DOC yields decreased in rivers draining permafrost areas, indicating that deepening
of the active layer and leaching of deeper seasonally frozen soil horizons were accompanied by much lower concentrations of DOC due to the refractory and insoluble
character of the remaining organic matter compounds. One destination of the fresh,
young and therefore most bioavailable DOC components will be ice wedges (Vonk
et al., 2013b), where the chemical character is preserved because of immediate freezing. In contrast, dissolved organic matter compounds in runoff into lakes and rivers are
rapidly degraded by microbial communities and photochemical reactions (Striegl et al.,
2005; Olefeldt and Roulet, 2012; Cory et al., 2014). This highlights the importance of
ground ice and especially ice wedges as a vital source of bioavailable DOC.
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The absolute numbers of DOC in permafrost might be still small compared to the particulate fraction. However, POC from both peat and mineral soil has a relatively slow
decomposition rate after thaw compared to DOC (Schuur et al., 2008). Organic matter
from melting ground ice was shown to be highly bioavailable and can even enhance organic matter degradation of the host material by increased enzyme activity in ice wedge
meltwater (Vonk et al., 2013b). Bioavailability experiments with Yedoma DOC from thaw
streams fed by ice wedge meltwater in NE Siberia illustrated the rapid decomposability
91
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of Yedoma OC, with OC losses of up to 33 % in 14 days (Vonk et al., 2013a). Incubations with increasing amounts of ice wedge water in the Yedoma-water suspension
enhanced DOC loss over time. Vonk et al. (2013b) concluded that ice wedges contain
a DOM pool of reduced aromaticity and can be therefore regarded as an old but readily
available carbon source with a high content of low-molecular weight compounds. Additionally, a co-metabolizing effect through high potential enzyme activity in ice wedges
upon thaw leads to enhanced degradation rates of organic matter of the host material.
When studying organic matter cycling in permafrost areas we have to abandon the
paradigm, which holds true for temperate regions and Arctic oceanography, that old
OC is refractory and that only young OC is fresh, bioavailable, and therefore relevant
for foods webs and greenhouse gas considerations.
We suggest that reduced organic matter degradation during cold periods is the main
reason why late Pleistocene syngenetic ice wedges have incorporated more DOC on
average than Holocene ice wedges. Incorporation of soluble organic matter into ground
ice might have been more effective than today due to various reasons. Ice Complex
deposits in the coastal lowlands formed during the late Pleistocene cold period, when
high accumulation rates of fine-grained sediments and organic matter were accompanied by rapidly aggrading permafrost (Hubberten et al., 2004). This means that on
the one hand, organic matter is less decomposed because it was rapidly incorporated
into perennially frozen ground and into the surrounding syngenetic ice wedges as the
permafrost table rose together with the rising surface while deposition (Schirrmeister et al., 2011b). One the other hand, colder annual air temperatures led to reduced
decomposition rates of organic matter which originated from vegetation communities
dominated by easily decomposable forbs (Willerslev et al., 2014) in contrast to resistant
sedge-moss-shrub tundra vegetation since postglacial times (Andreev et al., 2011). Additionally, low precipitation and reduced runoff presumably retained more DOC in the
landscape, ready to be transported into frost cracks.
Guo et al. (2007) concluded that most of the DOC in Arctic rivers is derived from
young and fresh plant litter and upper soil horizons. Leaching of deeper seasonally
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frozen soil horizons were accompanied by much lower DOC concentrations due to the
refractory and insoluble character of the remaining organic matter compounds (Guo
et al., 2007). DOC impoverishment in the active layer is logical as it is leached each
season over a long time under modern climate conditions, where permafrost aggradation is much slower than during cold stages; if it happens at all. The quantity and
quality of DOC pools in deeper permafrost is probably much higher because of – so far
– suppressed remobilization. Dou et al. (2008) studied the production of DOC as waterextractable organic carbon (WEOC) yields from organic-rich soil horizons in the active
layer and permafrost from a coastal bluff near Barrow (Alaska) facing the Beaufort Sea.
Besides high DOC yields in the uppermost horizon (0–5 cm below surface) the second
highest DOC yields derived from permafrost although the sampled horizon showed
lower soil OC contents than others (Dou et al., 2008). Interestingly, higher fractions
of low-molecular-weight DOC, which is regarded to be more bioavailable, were generally found at greater depths. This supports the view that permafrost deposits hold
a great potential for mobilizing large quantities of highly bioavailable organic matter
upon degradation. Coastal erosion and thermokarst often expose old and deep permafrost strata. Contained organic matter is directly exposed to the atmosphere and
transferred into coastal and fresh-water ecosystems without degradation because of
short travel and residence times. Therefore, Arctic coastal zones are supposed to receive overproportionally high loads of bioavailable dissolved and particulate organic
matter. Dou et al. (2008) used pure water (presumably MilliQ) and natural sea water
as solvent for studying the production of DOC. It turned out that seawater extraction
significantly reduced DOC yields which were attributed mainly to reduced solubility of
2+
2+
humic substances due to the presence of polyvalent cations such as Ca and Mg in
seawater (Aiken and Malcolm, 1987). On the one hand Dou et al. (2008) invoked that
a laboratory setup using pure water and dried/rewetted soil samples would lead to an
overestimation of DOC input to the Arctic Ocean during coastal erosion. On the other
hand and based on the large ground ice volumes in coastal cliffs (Lantuit et al., 2012),
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Conclusions and outlook
– Increased incorporation of DOC into ground ice is linked to relatively high proportions of terrestrial cations, especially Mg2+ and K+ . This indicates that leaching of
terrestrial organic matter is the most relevant process of DOC sequestration into
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– Syngenetic late Pleistocene ice wedges have the greatest potential to host a large
pool of presumably bioavailable DOC because of (i) highest measured average
DOC concentrations in combination with (ii) their wide spatial (lateral, vertical)
distribution in ice-rich permafrost areas and (iii) the sequestration of fresh and
easily leachable OC compounds.
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– Ice wedges represent a significant DOC (45.2 Tg) and DIC (33.6 Tg) pool in the
3
studied permafrost areas and a considerable fresh-water reservoir of 4172 km .
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Ground ice in ice-rich permafrost deposits contains DOC, DIC and other nutrients,
which are relevant to the global carbon cycle, arctic fresh-water habitats and marine
food webs upon release.
The following conclusions can be drawn from this study:
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we suggest that sparsely mineralized ice wedge meltwater is probably able to leach
greater amounts of DOC from permafrost upon thaw than other natural surface water.
An open question remains how much DOC can be found in intrasedimental ice and
how much DOC is produced upon degradation of old permafrost (e.g. late Pleistocene
Yedoma type) for example as a result of coastal erosion. The answer to this question is
crucial to follow the fate of permafrost organic matter upon re-mobilization. Additionally,
robust estimations of carbon release are crucial for predicting the strength and timing
of carbon-cycle feedback effects, and thus how important permafrost thaw will be for
climate change this century and beyond.
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– quantify DOC fluxes from ice wedges due to coastal erosion,
5
– differentiate between DOC and POC in permafrost including non-massive intrasedimental ice,
Discussion Paper
Based on our results about the stocks and chemical behavior of DOC in massive
ground ice bodies further studies shall strive to:
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Acknowledgements. We thank the Yukon Territorial Government, the Yukon Parks (Herschel
Island Qiqiktaruk Territorial Park), Parks Canada office (Ivvavik National Park) and the Aurora
Research Institute – Aurora College (ARI) in Inuvik, NWT, for administrative and logistical support. This study was partly funded by the International Bureau of the German Federal Ministry
of Education and Research (grant no. CAN 09/001, 01DM12002 to H.L.), the Helmholtz Association (grant no. VH-NG-801 to H.L.), the German Science Foundation (grant no. OP217/2-1
to T.O.), and a fellowship to M.F. by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU). Analytical work at AWI received great help from Ute Kuschel. Sebastian Wetterich, Dave Fox, and
Stefanie Weege assisted in the field.
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– assess the age and lability of DOC vs. POC in permafrost and the potential impact
on coastal food webs and fresh-water ecosystems.
Discussion Paper
– quantify DOC production from permafrost in different stratigraphic settings and
with different natural solvents to answer the question, what remains POC and
what is going to become DOC due to leaching,
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Location
Longitude
Latitude
Stratigraphy and host sediments
Ground ice conditions (inventory,
ground ice types, sampled ice
types marked in italic)
Reference
Western
Cape
Mamontov
Klyk
117.2
73.6
– Fluvial bottom sands – Late Weichselian Ice Complex – late
glacial to Holocene thermokarst deposits – Holocene valley deposits – Holocene cover deposits
– Yedoma hills (20–40 m a.s.l.) of ice-rich permafrost sequences
with wide and deep syngenetic ice wedges separated by thermoerosional valleys and thermokarst depressions
Ice-rich permafrost sequences with
wide and deep syngenetic late Pleistocene ice wedges
Schirrmeister et al. (2008,
2011b); Boereboom et al.
(2013)
Samoylov
Island
126.4
– First terrace (0–10 m a.s.l.): early to late Holocene delta floodplain, along the main river channels in the central and eastern
parts of the delta; fluvial facies from organic-rich sands to siltysandy peats towards bottom-up
– Modern to late Holocene floodplain; alluvial facies from peaty
sands to silty-sandy peats bottom-up
Ice-rich permafrost with active and
buried syngenetic Holocene ice wedges
Schwamborn et al. (2002);
Schirrmeister et al. (2011a)
Laptev
Sea
72.4
Ice-rich permafrost with epigenetic
Holocene ice wedges
Muostakh
Island
129.9
71.6
– Late glacial and Holocene cover deposits on top of Ice Complex
– Middle to Late Weichselian Ice Complex
Very ice-rich permafrost, late Pleistocene ice wedges, Holocene ice
wedges
Schirrmeister et al. (2011b, c
and references therein)
Dmitry
Laptev
Strait
Oyogos Yar
coast
143.5
72.7
– Alternation of wide thermokarst depressions (alases) and hills
representing remnants of Ice-Complex deposits (Yedoma)
– Late glacial to Holocene thermokarst deposits and on top of Ice
Complex
– Taberite formed during Weichselian to Holocene transition
– Late Weichselian Ice Complex
– Middle Weichselian Ice Complex
Late Pleistocene and Holocene ice
wedges,
All ice wedges were sampled at a
coastal bluff at an elevation of about
10 m a.s.l. in a central alas depression
Wetterich et al. (2009); Opel
et al. (2011); Schirrmeister
et al. (2011b)
Bol’shoy
Lyakhovsky
Island
73.2
– Late Holocene cover deposits and Holocene valley deposits
– Late glacial to Holocene thermokarst deposits
– Taberite formed during Weichselian to Holocene transition
– Middle Weichselian Ice Complex
Late Pleistocene ice wedges
Meyer et al. (2002); Andreev et al. (2004, 2009);
Schirrmeister et al. (2011b);
Wetterich et al. (2011, 2014)
Northern Barrow
Alaska
(CRREL
Permafrost
Tunnel)
−156.7
71.3
Buried ice-wedge system under about three meters of late glacial
to early Holocene ice-rich sediments
Late glacial ice wedges, Holocene ice
wedges
Sellman and Brown (1973);
Meyer et al. (2010a, b)
Interior
Alaska
Fairbanks
(Vault Creek
Tunnel)
−147.7
65.0
Discontinuous permafrost. Late Pleistocene ice-rich silty, loesslike organic-rich sediments between 12–15 m thick with large intersecting ice wedges
Late Pleistocene ice wedges,
Holocene ice wedges
Shur et al. (2004); Meyer et al.
(2008)
Yukon
Coast
Herschel
Island
−139.1
69.6
– Push end-moraine of Late Wisconsin (i.e. Late Weichselian)
age
– Mixed origin of marine, near-shore and terrestrial deposits
– Holocene cover deposits and slope material along steep
coastal bluffs
– Retrogressive thaw slumps along the coast exposing massive
ground ice and ice-rich sediments
Buried glacier ice of ≥ 20 m thickness
within Late Wisconsin diamicton
Late Wisconsin ice wedges truncated
by mass movement and Early Holocene
thaw unconformity
Epigenetic and anti-syngenetic
Holocene ice wedges
Fossil snow bank ice, Buried lake ice
Mackay (1959); Rampton
(1982); Fritz et al. (2011,
2012)
Dissolved organic
carbon (DOC) in
Arctic ground ice
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Roland Bay
−139.0
69.4
– Late Wisconsin diamicton
– Holocene cover deposits and slope material along steep
coastal bluffs
– Retrogressive thaw slumps along the coast exposing massive
ground ice and ice-rich sediments
Late Wisconsin and Holocene ice
wedges
Rampton (1982)
Yukon
Coast
Kay Point
−138.2
69.2
– Moraine (ridge) of Late Wisconsin age
– Holocene cover deposits and slope material along steep
coastal bluffs
– Retrogressive thaw slumps along the coast exposing massive
ground ice and ice-rich sediments
Presumably Late Wisconsin buried
glacier ice, Holocene ice wedges
Rampton (1982), Harry et al.
(1985)
Discussion Paper
Yukon
Coast
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106
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143.9
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New
Siberian
Islands
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Eastern
Laptev
Sea
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Lena
Delta
|
Region
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Table 1. Summary of study areas, study sites, stratigraphy of the host sediments, ground ice
inventory and the studied ice types.
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Discussion Paper
|
Ice type
∗
No.
of ice
bodies
No.
of
samples
DIC
mean
−1
[mg L ]
DIC
concentration
−1
range [mg L ]
No.
of ice
bodies
No.
of
samples
Stratigraphic
affiliation
9.6
1.6–28.6
22
72
4.7
0.3–19.8
21
66
1.8
0.7–3.8
5
22
9.3
0.1–25.4
4
19
Holocene, Late
Pleistocene
Late Pleistocene
2.0
0.3–5.2
1
6
8.8
0.3–22.9
1
6
Late Pleistocene
3.0
n.a.
1
1
n.a.
n.a.
5.6
5.5–5.7
3
3
22.6
5.0–40.2
Holocene
3
Three modern surface water samples are from three different water bodies representing thermokarst ponds along the Yukon Coast.
3
recent
Discussion Paper
Modern
∗
surface water
DOC
concentration
−1
range [mg L ]
9, 77–114, 2015
Dissolved organic
carbon (DOC) in
Arctic ground ice
M. Fritz et al.
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Ice wedge
ice
Basal glacier
ice
Buried lake
ice
Snow pack ice
DOC
mean
−1
[mg L ]
Discussion Paper
Table 2. Summarized DOC and DIC concentrations of different massive ground ice types.
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107
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2.4
11.1
28.6
1.6
7.3
19.5
WIV in
Pleistocene
Yedoma
deposits
vol%
a
16.7
48.0b
63.2a
WIV in
Holocene
thermokarst
deposits
vol%
DOC
stocks in
Pleistocene
c
permafrost
−3
gm
a
0.4
5.3
18.1
1.0
7.0b
13.2a
a
DOC
stocks in
Holocene
c
permafrost
−3
gm
0.02
0.51
2.6
DOC
pools in
Pleistocene
c,d
permafrost
Tg
3.2
43.0
145.9
DOC
pools in
Holocene
c,d
permafrost
Tg
0.07
2.2
11.0
WIV data by Ulrich et al. (2014).
Mean WIV data by Strauss et al. (2013).
c
This includes ice wedges only.
d
According to Strauss et al. (2013) undisturbed Pleistocene Yedoma covers 416 000 km2 with a mean thickness of 19.4 m, whereas Holocene thermokarst deposits
cover 775 000 km2 with a mean thickness of 5.5 m.
b
Discussion Paper
DOC
concentration in
Holocene IW
−1
mg L
9, 77–114, 2015
Dissolved organic
carbon (DOC) in
Arctic ground ice
M. Fritz et al.
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Min
Mean
Max
DOC
concentration in
Pleistocene IW
−1
mg L
Discussion Paper
Table 3. DOC stocks and pools in late Pleistocene and Holocene permafrost containing ice
wedges (IW) based on calculated wedge-ice volumes (WIV) in Yedoma and thermokarst basin
deposits. All other ground ice types, especially non-massive intrasedimental ice, are not included.
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108
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Discussion Paper
Dissolved organic
carbon (DOC) in
Arctic ground ice
M. Fritz et al.
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Introduction
Conclusions
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109
Discussion Paper
Figure 1. Study area and study sites (dots) for massive ground ice sampling in the Arctic
lowlands of Siberia and North America. All study sites are located within the zone of continuous
permafrost (dark purple), except for the Fairbanks area, which is the zone of discontinuous
permafrost (light purple). Blue line in the Arctic Ocean marks the northerly extent of submarine
permafrost according to Brown et al. (1997).
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9, 77–114, 2015
|
Discussion Paper
Dissolved organic
carbon (DOC) in
Arctic ground ice
M. Fritz et al.
Title Page
Introduction
Conclusions
References
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110
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Figure 2. Ground ice conditions and examples of studied ground ice types in the Siberian and
North American Arctic. Place names are plotted on Fig. 1.
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40
35
35
30
30
DIC concentration
[mg/L]
40
25
20
15
3
22
0
IW-H
BGI
6
1
5
26
66
6
40
0
BLI
SPI
SW
IW
IW-P
IW-H
BGI
BLI
SW
M. Fritz et al.
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111
Dissolved organic
carbon (DOC) in
Arctic ground ice
|
Figure 3. Boxplots of (a) DOC and (b) DIC concentrations in different massive ground ice types.
Plots show the number of samples in each category, minimum, maximum, median, 25 per centquartile and 75 per cent quartile as edge of boxes. IW: Ice wedges (all), IW-P: Pleistocene ice
wedges, IW-H: holocene ice wedges, BGI: Buried glacier ice, BLI: Buried lake ice, SPI: Snow
pack ice, SW: surface water.
Discussion Paper
40
IW-P
15
10
72
IW
3
20
19
32
5
25
9, 77–114, 2015
|
10
b)
Discussion Paper
DOC concentration
[mg/L]
45
a)
|
45
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DOC
0.09
pH
−0.07
0.25
0.36
0.15
0.36
0.65
−0.44
0.20
0.19
−0.11
0.38
0.19
−0.74
0.30
0.05
0.60
0.52
−0.21
0.31
−0.50
−0.34
−0.35
0.01
−0.41
−0.49
El. cond.−0.10
0.30
0.00
−0.11
−0.05
−0.14
−0.03
0.09
−0.13
−0.12
0.07
−0.25
−0.27
−0.46
−0.18
−0.75
−0.79
0.05
−0.56
0.85
0.18
0.22
0.24
0.16
0.33
SO4 −0.02
−0.23
0.47
−0.15
−0.04
−0.35
−0.10
−0.11
−0.09
−0.36
−0.36
0.10
−0.02
0.11
−0.11
0.13
0.08
−0.40
0.12
−0.09
Cl
NO3 0.11
HCO3 0.51
Ca
−0.67
−0.15
−0.17
−0.15
0.08
−0.09
−0.89
0.08
0.05
−0.23
−0.34
−0.44
0.21
−0.06
0.03
0.03
0.06
0.46
0.42
−0.68
0.16
0.15
−0.11
0.40
0.27
−0.13
−0.11
K
Mg
Na
0.21
0.04
0.18
d18O 0.99
−0.19
−0.01
−0.00
dD
−0.07
−0.02
−0.00
Discussion Paper
0.64
0.33
|
0.05
−0.28
D_exc −0.07
0.01
Lat
0.89
Long
9, 77–114, 2015
Dissolved organic
carbon (DOC) in
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M. Fritz et al.
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Figure 4. Correlation matrix. Correlations mentioned in the text are printed in bold. Strong
positive correlations of paired variables are indicated by dark bluish colors, while strong anticorrelations are depicted in red. Hatching from the upper right to the lower left depict positive
correlations, whereas negative correlations are reversely hatched for better perceptibility in
a black-and-white print. (For interpretation of the references to color in this figure legend, the
reader is referred to the web version of this article.)
|
112
Discussion Paper
−0.30
0.45
|
−0.02
Discussion Paper
DOC − unsorted correlation matrix
TCD
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1.0
Pleistocene
PCA axis 2 (18.8 %)
pH
Ice wedge
Recent
surface water
SO4
0
HCO3
Mg
Na
Electr. cond.
NO3
Ca
Lat
Lon
Cl
-1.0
δ18O δD
-1.0
Dissolved organic
carbon (DOC) in
Arctic ground ice
M. Fritz et al.
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Introduction
Conclusions
References
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J
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1.0
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0
PCA axis 1 (25.1 %)
Discussion Paper
Holocene
Ice wedge
9, 77–114, 2015
|
Recent surface
K
DOC
Discussion Paper
Holocene
Buried lake ice
D excess
|
Basal glacier
ice
Buried lake ice
Basal glacier ice
Discussion Paper
Pleistocene
Ice wedge
TCD
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113
Discussion Paper
Figure 5. PCA biplot for ground ice data. Inactive supplementary parameters (i.e. ice wedge,
buried lake ice, basal glacier ice, snow pack ice, surface water, Pleistocene, Holocene, recent)
are shown in grey italic.
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Tree model
Mg2+ = 16.0 %
3.3 mg/L
10.6 mg/L
K+ = 2.3 %
K+ = 2.65 %
Discussion Paper
a)
|
∅=4.7 mg/L
n=29
b)
∅=4.3 mg/L
n=8
∅=11.9 mg/L
n=40
Size of tree
4
6
8
10 13 16 18 20 22 24
1.0
9, 77–114, 2015
Dissolved organic
carbon (DOC) in
Arctic ground ice
M. Fritz et al.
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0.6
0.4
Inf
0.055
0.029
0.0081
0.0045
0.0014
Complexity parameter
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114
|
Figure 6. Univariate Tree Model (UTM) explains variability pattern in DOC concentration.
(a) Tree model focuses on DOC concentration as response variable. UTM uses 92 observations and a set of 22 explanatory variables. Mg2+ and K+ ions are most important to explain
differences in DOC concentrations. Mean DOC concentrations of each group in mg L−1 . Number of observations in each group (n). (b) Cross validation determines the statistically significant
size of the tree model. The dotted line is obtained by the mean value of the errors (x-error) of
the cross validations plus the SD of the cross validations upon convergence.
Discussion Paper
0.8
|
X−val relative error
1.2
1
Discussion Paper
∅=0.6 mg/L
n=15
TCD
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