Carbon cycle

Emissions from ponds

Glob. Biogeochem. Cycles (2012)


Ponds permeate permafrost landscapes, but because constraints on their surface area and distribution are poor, their contribution to Arctic carbon cycling has largely been overlooked. Field-based analyses in northeastern Siberia suggest that ponds and small lakes account for a significant fraction of landscape-level carbon dioxide emissions.

Anna Abnizova of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany, and colleagues measured the carbon content of ponds and small lakes on Samoylov Island, Siberia, during the summer of 2008. The waters sampled were super-saturated with respect to carbon dioxide, resulting in the release of carbon to the atmosphere. During September, emissions from ponds peaked at 10–12 g carbon m−2 d−1, some of the highest emissions reported for surface water bodies so far. Scaling up their findings, they estimate that ponds and lakes collectively account for 74 to 81% of carbon dioxide emissions on the landscape scale during late summer, with ponds contributing between 50–70% of these water-based emissions.

The team suggests that water bodies in permafrost landscapes represent hotspots for carbon dioxide emissions.


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Armstrong, A. Emissions from ponds. Nature Geosci 5, 441 (2012).

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