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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2018-54
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 06 Jun 2018

Research article | 06 Jun 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

Deglacial permafrost carbon dynamics in MPI-ESM

Thomas Schneider von Deimling1,a, Thomas Kleinen1, Gustaf Hugelius2, Christian Knoblauch3, Christian Beer4, and Victor Brovkin1 Thomas Schneider von Deimling et al.
  • 1Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Bundesstr. 53, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
  • 2Department of Physical Geography and Bolin Climate Research Centre, Stockholm University, 10693, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 3Institute of Soil Science, Universität Hamburg, Allende-Platz 2, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
  • 4Department of Environmetal Science and Analytical Chemistry and Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
  • anow at: Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, 14473 Potsdam, Germany

Abstract. We have developed a new module to calculate soil organic carbon (SOC) accumulation in perennially frozen ground in the land surface model JSBACH. Running this offline version of MPI-ESM we have modelled permafrost carbon accumulation and release from the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) to the Pre-industrial (PI). Our simulated near-surface PI permafrost extent of 16.9Miokm2 is close to observational evidence. Glacial boundary conditions, especially ice sheet coverage, result in profoundly different spatial patterns of glacial permafrost extent. Deglacial warming leads to large-scale changes in soil temperatures, manifested in permafrost disappearance in southerly regions, and permafrost aggregation in formerly glaciated grid cells. In contrast to the large spatial shift in simulated permafrost occurrence, we infer an only moderate increase of total LGM permafrost area (18.3Miokm2) – together with pronounced changes in the depth of seasonal thaw. Reconstructions suggest a larger spread of glacial permafrost towards more southerly regions, but with a highly uncertain extent of non-continuous permafrost.

Compared to a control simulation without describing the transport of SOC into perennially frozen ground, the implementation of our newly developed module for simulating permafrost SOC accumulation leads to a doubling of simulated LGM permafrost SOC storage (amounting to a total of ~150PgC). Despite LGM temperatures favouring a larger permafrost extent, simulated cold glacial temperatures – together with low precipitation and low CO2 levels – limit vegetation productivity and therefore prevent a larger glacial SOC build-up in our model. Changes in physical and biogeochemical boundary conditions during deglacial warming lead to an increase in mineral SOC storage towards the Holocene (168PgC at PI), which is below observational estimates (575PgC in continuous and discontinuous permafrost). Additional model experiments clarified the sensitivity of simulated SOC storage to model parameters, affecting long-term soil carbon respiration rates and simulated active layer depths. Rather than a steady increase in carbon release from the LGM to PI as a consequence of deglacial permafrost degradation, our results suggest alternating phases of soil carbon accumulation and loss as an effect of dynamic changes in permafrost extent, active layer depths, soil litter input, and heterotrophic respiration.

Thomas Schneider von Deimling et al.
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Thomas Schneider von Deimling et al.
Thomas Schneider von Deimling et al.
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Short summary
We have applied the Earth System Model MPI-ESM to simulate soil organic carbon (SOC) accumulation in permafrost grounds at the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, 21 ka BP). We further have run the model through the full deglacial warming phase into the Holocene. Our results suggest alternating phases of SOC accumulation and loss as an effect of dynamic changes in permafrost extent, thaw depths, soil litter input, and heterotrophic respiration – resulting in a net SOC increase of 14 % above LGM values.
We have applied the Earth System Model MPI-ESM to simulate soil organic carbon (SOC)...
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