Thawing permafrost microbiomes fuel climate change

Thawing permafrost microbiomes fuel climate change
Stordalen Mire study site. The biogeochemistry hut is connected to autochambers, allowing measurements of gas flux. Credit: Caitlin Singleton

A University of Queensland-led international study could lead to more accurate predictions or the rate of global warming from greenhouse gas emissions produced by thawing permafrost in the next 100 years.

The study of the microorganisms involved in permafrost carbon degradation links changing microbial communities and biogeochemistry to the rise of gas emissions.

It was led by Australian Centre for Ecogenomics researchers in the UQ School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences Dr. Ben Woodcroft, Ph.D. student Caitlin Singleton, Professor Gene Tyson and international colleagues.

"As global temperatures rise, large amounts of carbon sequestered in perennially frozen permafrost are becoming available for microbial degradation," Dr. Woodcroft said.

"Until now, accurate prediction of produced from thawing permafrost has been limited by our understanding of permafrost microbial communities and their carbon metabolisms."

Using sequencing techniques pioneered by Professor Tyson, over 200 samples from intact, thawing and thawed permafrost sites in northern Sweden were examined.

DNA sequences of more than 1500 microbial genomes all new to science and involved in complex biochemical networks were recovered.

Thawing permafrost microbiomes fuel climate change
Lapporten (The Gate to Lapland) valley, situated near the study site. Credit: Caitlin Singleton

The research, which included new metagenomics software run on UQ supercomputers, also implicated a number of these entirely new lineages in the production of greenhouse gases.

Ms Singleton said permafrost stores around 50 per cent of the total global soil carbon (or 1580 billion tonnes).

"The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report estimated that between 30 and 99 per cent of near-surface permafrost could disappear by 2100," she said.

"Northern permafrost wetlands contribute a significant portion of global methane emissions, particularly as collapsing permafrost can create the perfect anaerobic conditions for methane-producing microorganisms (methanogens), and their metabolic partners, to thrive.

"This is important as methane is a potent greenhouse gas—25 times more efficient at trapping the sun's radiation in our atmosphere than dioxide."

Thawing permafrost microbiomes fuel climate change
Frozen Lake Torneträsk, located next to the study site. Credit: Caitlin Singleton

She said that as thaws, methane emissions increase, causing a positive feedback loop where increased atmospheric warming caused more thawing.

The study is published in Nature and co-authored by researchers at The Ohio State University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Florida State University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, University of New Hampshire, Stockholm University, and the University of Arizona.


Explore further

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

More information: Ben J. Woodcroft et al, Genome-centric view of carbon processing in thawing permafrost, Nature (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0338-1
Journal information: Nature

Citation: Thawing permafrost microbiomes fuel climate change (2018, July 16) retrieved 15 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-07-permafrost-microbiomes-fuel-climate.html
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Jul 16, 2018
There is no such thing as a GHE, ergo, there can be no such thing as a GHG, so there is nothing to fear from permafrost and this is all just irrelevent nonsense!

Jul 16, 2018
There is no such thing as a GHE, ergo, there can be no such thing as a GHG, so there is nothing to fear from permafrost and this is all just irrelevent nonsense!

Reputable scientific source?

Jul 16, 2018
Any High School Physics textbook.
Get an education!

Jul 16, 2018
Having been through considerably more than high school physics, I can say with great confidence that nothing in a high school physics textbook could possibly refute the GHE. To claim it does requires a misunderstanding of the GHE, or basic physics, or both.

Jul 16, 2018
Even more, complete and utter bullshit from the AGW Cult and their PATHOLOGICAL "science". NASA has squandered MILLIONS on this and FAILED to find any evidence of it.


Jul 16, 2018
Having been through considerably more than high school physics, I can say with great confidence that nothing in a high school physics textbook could possibly refute the GHE. To claim it does requires a misunderstanding of the GHE, or basic physics, or both.

You obviously lack both.
I'll bet you can't define climate or the GHE....

Jul 16, 2018
As it's apparent that you don't understand the GHE, I'll point you to a basic introduction: https://scienceof...e-terms/ . I'm on vacation and am not really interested in teaching a course in remedial physics. However the basic actors are the facts that solar radiation is mostly visible light, radiation from the earth is emitted more in the IR, GHGs absorb primarily in IR and not so much in the visible frequencies, the lapse rate shows that the troposphere cools as you get higher, and (finally) the cooler the temperature of an object (the atmosphere in this case) the less it radiates.

If you were expecting mention of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, you are confused about the GHE.

Jul 16, 2018
I fail to see how thawing permafrost for the next 100 years
will lead to more accurate predictions or the rate of global warming from greenhouse gas emissions produced! And it is going to take a LOT of energy to thaw permafrost for 100 years. The environmentalists will not be happy!

Jul 16, 2018
There is no such thing as a GHE,
- rodkeh

Absolutely right. The Earth has the same temperature as the moon. There ain't nothing real about Glow Ball Warmin. The air don't keep nufink warmed up.


Jul 16, 2018
Any High School Physics textbook
- rodkeh

You be right again, cause my high schools textbook tells me that the air don't keep nuthin warm so da earfs temperatures at knight is the same as the dark side of the moon - 270'C

You tell these scientific stupids dat they gonna has be it all wrong.


Jul 16, 2018
Liar.. Liar.. Pants on fire...

"NASA has squandered MILLIONS on this and FAILED to find any evidence of it." - antigoricle

https://data.giss...dSST.txt

Jul 18, 2018
rodkeh and antigoracle sitting in their mommy's basement huffing gasoline.

Because their HS textbook told them that it was a healthy habit. That evil liberal oxygen would interrupt their altright hallucinations.

Jul 18, 2018
Liar.. Liar.. Pants on fire...Say is this you?


"Just to let everyone know... V-for-Vendicar is a long time troll
that for years now has been trolling groups to see how many people's
buttons he can push....

"Some people like to call him Scuttle Nutts, but his real name is
Scott Nudds. Possibly has some connection to Scott Douglas.

"There is evidence on the web that he is an ex-pat run-away
American citizen living in Canada, perhaps in Hamilton, Ontario
He is also known as VenDickArse DickArian, (lol) and BushIsATraitor
and Hang All RepubliKKKans or for short... you can just call him.....
VD. The guy is definitely a disease."

Jul 18, 2018
Liar.. Liar.. Pants on fire...

"NASA has squandered MILLIONS on this and FAILED to find any evidence of it." - antigoricle

https://data.giss...dSST.txt
-- Another Jackass brays

Alaska shows no signs of rising Arctic methane -- https://phys.org/...ane.html

Analysis of nearly three decades of air samples from Alaska's North Slope shows little change in long-term methane emissions-- https://phys.org/...ble.html

Jul 18, 2018
@antigoracle: "Another Jackass brays" As opposed to 'this Jackass'?

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