Abstract

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) play an essential role in climate change and air pollution by modulating tropospheric oxidation capacity and providing precursors for ozone and aerosol formation. Arctic permafrost buries large quantities of frozen soil carbon, which could be released as VOCs with permafrost thawing or collapsing as a consequence of global warming. However, due to the lack of reported studies in this field and the limited capability of the conventional measurement techniques, it is poorly understood how much VOCs could be emitted from thawing permafrost and the chemical speciation of the released VOCs. Here we apply a Vocus proton-transfer-reaction time-of-flight mass spectrometer (PTR-TOF) in laboratory incubations for the first time to examine the release of VOCs from thawing permafrost peatland soils sampled from Finnish Lapland. The warming-induced rapid VOC emissions from the thawing soils were mainly attributed to the direct release of old, trapped gases from the permafrost. The average VOC fluxes from thawing permafrost were four times as high as those from the active layer (the top layer of soil in permafrost terrain). The emissions of less volatile compounds, i.e. sesquiterpenes and diterpenes, increased substantially with rising temperatures. Results in this study demonstrate the potential for substantive VOC releases from thawing permafrost. We anticipate that future global warming could stimulate VOC emissions from the Arctic permafrost, which may significantly influence the Arctic atmospheric chemistry and climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104097
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume15
Issue number10
Number of pages11
ISSN1748-9326
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • Arctic
  • CALIBRATION
  • CARBON
  • OXIDATION
  • STOCKS
  • VOC
  • VOLATILITY BASIS-SET
  • atmospheric chemistry
  • thawing permafrost
  • volatile organic compounds
  • 1172 Environmental sciences

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