A globally relevant stock of soil nitrogen in the Yedoma permafrost domain

authored by
Jens Strauss, Christina Biasi, Tina Sanders, Benjamin W Abbott, Thomas Schneider von Deimling, Carolina Voigt, Matthias Winkel, Maija E Marushchak, Dan Kou, Matthias Fuchs, Marcus A Horn, Loeka L Jongejans, Susanne Liebner, Jan Nitzbon, Lutz Schirrmeister, Katey Walter Anthony, Yuanhe Yang, Sebastian Zubrzycki, Sebastian Laboor, Claire Treat, Guido Grosse

Nitrogen regulates multiple aspects of the permafrost climate feedback, including plant growth, organic matter decomposition, and the production of the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. Despite its importance, current estimates of permafrost nitrogen are highly uncertain. Here, we compiled a dataset of >2000 samples to quantify nitrogen stocks in the Yedoma domain, a region with organic-rich permafrost that contains ~25% of all permafrost carbon. We estimate that the Yedoma domain contains 41.2 gigatons of nitrogen down to ~20 metre for the deepest unit, which increases the previous estimate for the entire permafrost zone by ~46%. Approximately 90% of this nitrogen (37 gigatons) is stored in permafrost and therefore currently immobile and frozen. Here, we show that of this amount, ¾ is stored >3 metre depth, but if partially mobilised by thaw, this large nitrogen pool could have continental-scale consequences for soil and aquatic biogeochemistry and global-scale consequences for the permafrost feedback.

Institute of Microbiology
External Organisation(s)
Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research
University of Eastern Finland
Brigham Young University
Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - German Research Centre for Geosciences
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN)
Helmholtz-Zentrum hereon GmbH
Nature Communications
Publication date
Publication status
Peer reviewed
ASJC Scopus subject areas
General, Physics and Astronomy(all), Chemistry(all), Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
Sustainable Development Goals
SDG 13 - Climate Action
Electronic version(s)
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-33794-9 (Access: Open)