Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Cryospheric and Polar Processes Seminar

An underestimated and vulnerable carbon stock: floodplain soil carbon storage in permafrost regions and the potential for future changes due to warming by Dr. Katherine B. Lininger, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography,  at CU Boulder

Abstract:  Rivers influence the global carbon cycle by delivering carbon to the oceans, providing sites for carbon processing, and storing carbon in floodplains for decades to millennia. However, the amount of organic carbon (OC) stored in river corridors (channels and floodplains) and the geomorphic influences on the spatial distribution of OC are not well understood. High latitude regions are experiencing rapid warming and permafrost thaw, and these regions contain large amounts of OC in the subsurface. Very little work has quantified OC storage in floodplains in the high latitudes. I present data on floodplain OC stocks in soil in the Yukon Flats in interior Alaska, a region with discontinuous permafrost. Fieldwork that recognizes floodplains as distinct environments relative to uplands can result in more accurate estimates of soil OC stocks in permafrost regions. I also present conceptual models that can be used to guide research on floodplains in permafrost regions as climate changes. Because of climate warming and permafrost thaw, geomorphic and biogeochemical processes may be significantly altered in high latitudes boreal regions. I draw on previously published literature to describe potential changes in geomorphic processes and the influence these changes may have on floodplain OC stocks. Determining floodplain OC stocks and the geomorphic influences on those stocks is important for accounting for carbon within the Earth system and for understanding and assessing future changes caused by warming. 

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    Meeting ID: 540 961 8610


Wednesday, February 27, 2019
11:15 am to 12:15 pm




  • CIRES employees
  • CU Boulder employees
  • General Public
  • NOAA employees
  • Science collaborators
  • Open to Public


Mistia Zuckerman


NSIDC, RL-2, Room 155/153