The Carbon Balance of a Southwest Alaska Thermokarst Lake Basin
Klein, E.S., Yu, Z. and Booth, R.K. 2013. Recent increase in peatland carbon accumulation in a thermokarst lake basin in southwestern Alaska. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 392: 186-195.
In broaching this question, Klein et al. "analyzed a permafrost sediment core from a thermokarst basin on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in southwestern Alaska to estimate: 1) when a thermokarst lake drained and a peatland initiated; 2) changes in lake and peatland CAR [carbon accumulation rate]; and 3) peatland water-table depth variability." In discussing their findings the three U.S. researchers report "the average apparent CAR increased tenfold following lake drainage, from ~12 to 120 gC/m2/year after peatland establishment," and that "after transition to a Sphagnum-dominated peatland ~1700, CAR reduced gradually before more than doubling from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, potentially in response to a 1977 Pacific Decadal Oscillation shift that saw average annual temperatures increase nearly 1.5°C."
Klein et al. conclude by stating the results they obtained "suggest that drainage of thermokarst lakes in northern regions could produce basins that accumulate organic-rich peat," noting "these vegetated basins might be a persistent C sink that increases with warming," to the extent that "the C accumulated in these vegetated drained basins under current warming might help offset some of the C released from thawing permafrost and thermokarst features in northern regions."
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