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A revised pan-Arctic permafrost soil Hg pool based on Western Siberian peat Hg and carbon observations

Abstract : Natural and anthropogenic mercury (Hg) emissions are sequestered in terrestrial soils over short, annual to long, millennial timescales before Hg mobilization and run-off impact wetland and coastal ocean ecosystems. Recent studies have used Hg-to-carbon (C) ratios (RHgC's) measured in Alaskan permafrost mineral and peat soils together with a northern circumpolar permafrost soil carbon inventory to estimate that these soils contain large amounts of Hg (between 184 and 755 Gg) in the upper 1 m. However, measurements of RHgC on Siberian permafrost peatlands are largely missing, leaving the size of the estimated northern soil Hg budget and its fate under Arctic warming scenarios uncertain. Here we present Hg and carbon data for six peat cores down to mineral horizons at 1.5-4 m depth, across a 1700 km latitudinal (56 to 67 N) permafrost gradient in the Western Siberian Lowland (WSL). Mercury concentrations increase from south to north in all soil horizons, reflecting a higher stability of sequestered Hg with respect to re-emission. The RHgC in the WSL peat horizons decreases with depth, from 0.38 Gg Pg-1 in the active layer to 0.23 Gg Pg-1 in continuously frozen peat of the WSL. We estimate the Hg pool (0-1 m) in the permafrost-affected part of the WSL peatlands to be 9.3±2.7 Gg. We review and estimate pan-Arctic organic and mineral soil RHgC to be 0.19 and 0.63 Gg Pg-1, respectively, and use a soil carbon budget to revise the pan-Arctic permafrost soil Hg pool to be 72 Gg (39-91 Gg; interquartile range, IQR) in the upper 30 cm, 240 Gg (110-336 Gg) in the upper 1 m, and 597 Gg (384-750 Gg) in the upper 3 m. Using the same RHgC approach, we revise the upper 30 cm of the global soil Hg pool to contain 1086 Gg of Hg (852-1265 Gg, IQR), of which 7 % (72 Gg) resides in northern permafrost soils. Additional soil and river studies in eastern and northern Siberia are needed to lower the uncertainty on these estimates and assess the timing of Hg release to the atmosphere and rivers.
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Artem G. Lim, Martin Jiskra, Jeroen E. Sonke, Sergey V. Loiko, Natalia Kosykh, et al.. A revised pan-Arctic permafrost soil Hg pool based on Western Siberian peat Hg and carbon observations. Biogeosciences, 2020, 17, pp.3083-3097. ⟨10.5194/bg-17-3083-2020⟩. ⟨insu-03661443⟩

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