GHG emissions from Canadian Arctic aquatic systems dated for the first time

December 22, 2015 in Article

Bylot Island ponds and lakes: Carbon sinks or GHG emitters?

*all credits: http://www.inrs.ca/english/actualites/ghg-emissions-canadian-arctic-aquatic-systems-dated-first-time by Gisèle Bolduc*

For the first time, researchers have successfully dated the carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) emitted by ponds and lakes on Bylot Island, Nunavut. The research team observed significant variability in age and emission rates of greenhouse gases (GHG) from aquatic systems located in a continuous permafrost zone. The study, whose lead author is Frédéric Bouchard affiliated to the INRS Eau Terre Environnement Research Centre and the Geography Department of Université de Montréal, appeared in the international journal Biogeosciences.

 

Gas samples taken over the summer showed strikingly different ages and emission rates depending on the size and depth of the water bodies. Carbon-14 dating revealed that gas emitted by shallow ponds was a few centuries old, making it relatively “young”. Certain ponds, covered by cyanobacterial mats, were identified as CO2 sinks and sources of CH4; others, with eroded banks, were significant emitters of both GHG. Compared to ponds, arctic lakes were found to release much older GHG—up to 3,500 years old in the case of CH4—but at a much slower rate, at least in summer.

“This study demonstrates the significant impact of the combined geomorphological, limnological, and hydrological properties of aquatic systems on CO2 and CH4 emissions caused by thawing permafrost,” noted Professor Isabelle Laurion.”

The research team approach enabled an estimation of GHG emissions caused by two distinct processes: diffusion and ebullition. Researchers found that diffusion can be a significant mode of emission, especially from ponds. Until now, ebullition had been considered the predominant mode of CH4 emissions in lake systems.

 


“This study on the age of GHG emitted in the Canadian Arctic is one of very few using data from lakes outside of Siberia or Alaska. It sheds light on the specific role played by aquatic systems on carbon dynamics associated with thawing permafrost, and their potential impact on future climate change,” stated researcher Frédéric Bouchard

This work sets the scene for further research that must not only measure gas exchange rates, but also account for the age of carbon emitted, since this will impact the systems’ potential positive feedback effect on climate.

About the publication

This research was conducted by Frédéric Bouchard, Isabelle Laurion, and Vilmantas Prėskienis, of the INRS Eau Terre Environnement Research Centre, along with Daniel Fortier of Université de Montréal, Xiaomei Xu of University of California, and Michael J. Whiticar of University of Victoria. The resulting article, “Modern to millennium‐old greenhouse gases emitted from ponds and lakes of the Eastern Canadian Arctic (Bylot Island, Nunavut),” was recently published in the international journal Biogeosciences (DOI: 10.5194/bg-12-7279-2015). Financial support for the research team was provided by ArcticNet, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Natural Resources Canada’s Polar Continental Shelf Program, NSERC’s Discovery Frontiers and EnviroNorth programs, and the W. Garfield Weston Foundation. 

New contribution from Frédéric Bouchard et al. on greenhouse gases emitted from fresh water ecosystems in the high Arctic

July 27, 2015 in Article, Paper

Week #1 – Recent Cryosphere papers

January 6, 2014 in Article

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Van Nieuwenhove, N. and J. P. Briner (2014). “Sea-ice, glaciers and climate dynamics of Baffin Bay and the NW Passage.” Journal of Quaternary Science 29(1): 1-1.

Bouchard, F., et al. (2013). “Vulnerability of shallow subarctic lakes to evaporate and desiccate when snowmelt runoff is low.” Geophysical Research Letters 40(23): 2013GL058635.

Strauss, J., et al. (2013). “The deep permafrost carbon pool of the Yedoma region in Siberia and Alaska.” Geophysical Research Letters 40(23): 2013GL058088. (Open Access)

Wik, M., et al. (2014). “Energy input is primary controller of methane bubbling in subarctic lakes.” Geophysical Research Letters: 2013GL058510.

An, H. and S. J. Noh “High-order averaging method of hydraulic conductivity for accurate soil moisture modeling.” Journal of Hydrology(0). (Early Access)

Kneisel, C., et al. “Application of 3D electrical resistivity imaging for mapping frozen ground conditions exemplified by three case studies.” Geomorphology(0). (Early Access)