|1/18/2016 by mdc|
|Collin P. Ward and Rose M. Cory report that northern circumpolar permafrost soils contain roughly twice the amount of carbon stored in the atmosphere today, but the majority of this soil organic carbon is perennially frozen. Climate warming in the arctic is thawing permafrost soils and mobilizing previously frozen dissolved organic matter (DOM) from deeper soil layers to nearby surface waters. |
Previous studies have reported that ancient DOM draining deeper layers of permafrost soils was more susceptible to degradation by aquatic bacteria compared to modern DOM draining the shallow active layer of permafrost soils, and have suggested that DOM chemical composition may be an important control for the lability of DOM to bacterial degradation. However, the compositional features that distinguish DOM drained from different depths in permafrost soils are poorly characterized. Thus, the objective of this study was to characterize the chemical composition of DOM drained from different depths in permafrost soils, and relate these compositional differences to its susceptibility to biological degradation.
DOM was leached from the shallow organic mat and the deeper permafrost layer of soils within the Imnavait Creek watershed on the North Slope of Alaska. DOM draining both soil layers was characterized in triplicate by coupling ultra-high resolution mass spectrometry, 13C solid-state NMR, and optical spectroscopy methods with multi-variate statistical analyses. Reproducibility of replicate mass spectra was high, and compositional differences resulting from interfering species or isolation effects were significantly smaller than differences between DOM drained from each soil layer.
All analyses indicated that DOM leached from the shallower organic mat contained higher molecular weight, more oxidized, and more unsaturated aromatic species compared to DOM leached from the deeper permafrost layer. Bacterial production rates in permafrost were significantly higher..