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Source, transport and fate of soil organic matter inferred from microbial biomarker lipids on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf

Bischoff, J, Sparkes, RB, Doğrul Selver, A, Spencer, RGM, Gustafsson, Ö, Semiletov, IP, Dudarev, OV, Wagner, D, Rivkina, E, van Dongen, BE and Talbot, HM (2016) Source, transport and fate of soil organic matter inferred from microbial biomarker lipids on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. Biogeosciences Discussions.


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The Siberian Arctic contains a globally significant pool of organic carbon (OC) vulnerable to enhanced warming and subsequent release by both fluvial and coastal erosion processes. However, the rate of release, its behaviour in the Arctic Ocean and vulnerability to remineralisation is poorly understood. Here we combine new measurements of microbial biohopanoids including adenosylhopane, a lipid associated with soil microbial communities, with published glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraether (GDGTs) and bulk δ13C 5 measurements to improve knowledge of the fate of OC transported to the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS). The microbial hopanoid-based soil OC proxy R'soil ranges from 0.0 to 0.8 across the ESAS, with highest values near shore and decreases offshore. Across the shelf R'soil displays a negative linear correlation with bulk δ13C measurements (r2 = −0.73, p = < 0.001). When compared to the GDGT based OC proxy, the Branched and Isoprenoid tetraether (BIT) index, a decoupled (non-linear) behaviour on the shelf was observed, particularly in the Buor-Khaya Bay where the R'soil shows limited 10 variation, whereas the BIT index shows a rapid decline moving away from the Lena River outflow channels. This reflects a balance between delivery and removal of OC from different sources. The good correlation between the hopanoid and bulk terrestrial signal suggests a broad range of hopanoid sources, both fluvial and via coastal erosion whilst GDGTs appear to be primarily sourced via fluvial transport. Analysis of ice complex deposits (ICDs) revealed an average R'soil of 0.5 for the Lena delta, equivalent to that of the Buor-Khaya Bay sediments, whilst ICDs from further East showed higher values (0.6–0.85). Al15 though R'soil correlates more closely with bulk OC than the BIT, our understanding of the endmembers of this system is clearly still incomplete with east-west variations potentially reflecting differences in environmental conditions (e.g. temperature, pH) but other physiological controls on microbial BHP production under psychrophilic conditions are as yet unknown.

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