09 Sep 2022
09 Sep 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESD.

PInc-PanTher estimates of Arctic permafrost soil carbon under the GeoMIP G6solar and G6sulfur experiments

Aobo Liu1,2, Yating Chen1,2, and John C. Moore2,3,4 Aobo Liu et al.
  • 1College of Geography and Environment, Shandong Normal University, Jinan, 250014, China
  • 2College of Global Change and Earth System Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, 100875, China
  • 3CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China
  • 4Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, 96101, Finland

Abstract. Circum-Arctic permafrost represents a tipping element for the Earth's climate system that must be maintained to avoid catastrophic climate change. Solar geoengineering (SG) has the potential to slow Arctic temperature rise by increasing planetary albedo, but could also reduce tundra productivity. Here, we improve the data-constrained PInc-PanTher model of permafrost carbon storage by including estimates of plant productivity and rhizosphere priming on soil carbon. Six earth system models are used to drive the model, running two SG schemes (G6solar and G6sulfur), and scenarios with substantive (SSP2-4.5) and no (SSP5-8.5) mitigation efforts. By 2100, simulations indicate that the permafrost area is expected to decrease by 9.2±0.4 (mean ± standard error), 5.6±0.4, 5.8±0.3, and 6.1±0.4 million km2 and soil carbon loss will be 81±8, 47±6, 37±11, and 43±9 Pg under SSP5-8.5, SSP2-4.5, G6solar and G6sulfur, respectively. Uncertainties in permafrost soil C loss estimates arise mainly from changes in vegetation productivity due to climate warming and CO2 fertilization. The increased input flux from vegetation to soil raises, while the priming effects of root exudates lowers soil C storage conservation, with the net effect mitigating soil C loss. Despite model differences, the protective effects of the G6solar and G6sulfur experiments on permafrost area and soil carbon storage are consistent and significant at the 95 % level for all six ESM. SG mitigates ~1/3 of permafrost area loss and halves carbon loss for SSP5-8.5, averting about $20 trillion in economic losses by 2100 and might provide a sustainable income stream for the Arctic population.

Aobo Liu et al.

Status: open (until 21 Oct 2022)

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Aobo Liu et al.

Aobo Liu et al.


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Short summary
Permafrost thaws and releases carbon (C) as the Arctic warms. Most Earth System Models (ESM) have poor estimates of C stored now and so their future C losses are much lower than using the PInc-PanTher permafrost C model with climate inputs from 6 ESM. Bias-corrected soil temperatures and vegetative productivity plus geoengineering lowering global temperatures from a “business as usual level to a moderate emissions level keep C in the soil worth about $20 trillion in climate damages by 2100.