Arctic freshwater carbon dynamics

Lead: Judith Vogt

Arctic freshwater carbon dynamics

Freshwater ecosystems such as lakes and rivers emit large quantities of carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere on a global level [1,2]. For Arctic regions, especially where permafrost is present and thawing is accelerating due to global warming, emissions from existing and newly forming water bodies may alter feedback processes with climate [3]. However, the drivers of freshwater carbon emissions remain largely unknown, and flux estimates come with high uncertainties due to scarcity of 1) comprehensive observational data from northern regions, and 2) representation of heterogeneous processes in a quickly transitioning Arctic.

To advance our understanding of carbon fluxes in Arctic freshwater in the context of this project, we are looking to synthesize existing observational data from spatially distributed chamber measurements and eddy covariance time series of carbon dioxide and methane, including information about water chemistry and site characteristics across the Arctic. To fill existing gaps in data coverage, we also plan to conduct further field campaigns and collect measurements with floating chambers on lakes and rivers that will feed into the data synthesis. The aim is to upscale the synthesized data to a pan-Arctic level and to update the data-driven estimate of freshwater contributions to the Arctic carbon budget. In addition, synthesized information from this database will inform high-resolution process modelers about carbon flux drivers in the Arctic, and provide an open-access database for the public. This work contributes to the projects Q-ARCTIC and GreenFeedBack.
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  1. Raymond, P., Hartmann, J., Lauerwald, R. et al. Global carbon dioxide emissions from inland waters. Nature 503, 355–359 (2013). Global carbon dioxide emissions from inland waters | Nature
  2. Rosentreter, J.A., Borges, A.V., Deemer, B.R. et al. Half of global methane emissions come from highly variable aquatic ecosystem sources. Nat. Geosci. 14, 225–230 (2021). Half of global methane emissions come from highly variable aquatic ecosystem sources | Nature Geoscience
  3. Miner, K.R., Turetsky, M.R., Malina, E. et al. Permafrost carbon emissions in a changing Arctic. Nat Rev Earth Environ 3, 55–67 (2022).




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