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Significant Floodplain Soil Organic Carbon Storage Along a Large High-Latitude River and its Tributaries

Significant Floodplain Soil Organic Carbon Storage Along a Large High-Latitude River and its Tributaries

Geophysical Research Letters 46(4): 2121-2129

ISSN/ISBN: 0094-8276

DOI: 10.1029/2018gl080996

High-latitude permafrost regions store large stocks of soil organic carbon (OC), which are vulnerable to climate warming. Estimates of subsurface carbon stocks do not take into account floodplains as unique landscape units that mediate and influence the delivery of materials into river networks. We estimate floodplain soil OC stocks within the active layer (seasonally thawed layer) and to a maximum depth of 1 m from a large field data set in the Yukon Flats region of interior Alaska. We compare our estimated stocks to a previously published data set and find that the OC stock estimate using our field data could be as much as 68% higher than the published data set. Radiocarbon measurements indicate that sediment and associated OC can be stored for thousands of years before erosion and transport. Our results indicate the importance of floodplains as areas of underestimated carbon storage, particularly because climate change may modify geomorphic processes in permafrost regions.

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Accession: 070912557

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