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Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems

Background: Permafrost contains a large amount of frozen organic matter, which will begin to decay as permafrost thaws in the future. The resulting increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane will amplifying the climate warming rate, creating a positive permafrost carbon feedback on climate. Little is known about the magnitude and dynamics of the permafrost carbon feedback. None of the climate projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report account for the permafrost carbon feedback.

Abstract: Our objective is to quantify uncertainty in the permafrost carbon feedback by exploring permafrost thermodynamics and carbon balance in permafrost regions at high northern latitudes. We will explore uncertainties in the magnitude and timing of the permafrost carbon feedback associated with the 1) assumed warming scenario, 2) model structure and parameters, 3) input weather, 4) assumed permafrost carbon distribution, and 5) methane emissions. We will run a series of projections out to 2200 using the Simple Biosphere/Carnegie-Ames-Stanford Approach (SiBCASA) model and the Lund- Potsdam-Jena (LPJ) wetland model, varying assumed inputs and parameter values. A statistical analysis of this ensemble will provide quantified measures of uncertainty in the timing and magnitude of the permafrost carbon feedback.

Significance: Our project will quantify a key uncertainty in long-term climate projections: the ultimate fate of organic matter currently frozen in permafrost and the potential strength of the permafrost carbon feedback.

Project PI: Kevin Schaefer/University of Colorado

National Snow and Ice Data Center CIRES, 449 UCB University of Colorado Boulder, CO 80309-0449 USA

Phone: (303) 492-8869

Fax: (303) 492-2468

Email: kevin.schaefer@nsidc.org

http://nsidc.org/research/bios/schaefer.html

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Started: Sep 03, 2010

Last Activity: Feb 09, 2011

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