An integrated assessment of the ecological state and stability of permafrost peat plateaus in northeastern European Russia has been performed with regard to current climate changes. Analytical studies have revealed heterogeneity in the composition and properties of peat organic matter in active and permafrost layers. Permafrost organic matter in peatlands is relatively undecomposed, and, theoretically, its rapid mineralization can begin upon peat thawing. Organic carbon in peatlands has not been frozen or conserved during about 64–78% of their total lifetime; therefore, it is the existence of anaerobic conditions (rather than of permafrost) that has been the most important factor for peat accumulation. Current degradation of permafrost peat plateaus is caused mainly by wind and thermal erosion but practically does not lead to the development of thermokarst. Regardless of current climate warming, peat plateaus under natural conditions (not altered by human activities) are stable ecological systems.
Russian Journal of Ecology – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 31, 2016
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