Photochemical degradation affects the light absorption of water-soluble brown carbon in the South Asian outflowDownload
Light-absorbing organic aerosols, known as brown carbon (BrC), counteract the overall cooling effect of aerosols on Earth’s climate. The spatial and temporal dynamics of their light-absorbing properties are poorly constrained and unaccounted for in climate models, because of limited ambient observations. We combine carbon isotope forensics (δ13C) with measurements of light absorption in a conceptual aging model to constrain the loss of light absorptivity (i.e., bleaching) of water-soluble BrC (WS-BrC) aerosols in one of the world’s largest BrC emission regions—South Asia. On this regional scale, we find that atmospheric photochemical oxidation reduces the light absorption of WS-BrC by ~84% during transport over 6000 km in the Indo-Gangetic Plain, with an ambient first-order bleaching rate of 0.20 ± 0.05 day−1 during over-ocean transit across Bay of Bengal to an Indian Ocean receptor site. This study facilitates dynamic parameterization of WS-BrC absorption properties, thereby constraining BrC climate impact over South Asia.
Remobilization of old permafrost carbon to Chukchi Sea sediments during the end of the last deglaciation
Climate warming is expected to destabilize permafrost carbon (PF‐C) by thaw‐erosion and deepening of the seasonally thawed active layer and thereby promote PF‐C mineralization to CO2 and CH4. A similar PF‐C remobilization might have contributed to the increase in atmospheric CO2 during deglacial warming after the last glacial maximum. Using carbon isotopes and terrestrial biomarkers (Δ14C, δ13C, and lignin phenols), this study quantifies deposition of terrestrial carbon originating from permafrost in sediments from the Chukchi Sea (core SWERUS‐L2‐4‐PC1). The sediment core reconstructs remobilization of permafrost carbon during the late Allerød warm period starting at 13,000 cal years before present (BP), the Younger Dryas, and the early Holocene warming until 11,000 cal years BP and compares this period with the late Holocene, from 3,650 years BP until present. Dual‐carbon‐isotope‐based source apportionment demonstrates that Ice Complex Deposit—ice‐ and carbon‐rich permafrost from the late Pleistocene (also referred to as Yedoma)—was the dominant source of organic carbon (66 ± 8%; mean ± standard deviation) to sediments during the end of the deglaciation, with fluxes more than twice as high (8.0 ± 4.6 g·m−2·year−1) as in the late Holocene (3.1 ± 1.0 g·m−2·year−1). These results are consistent with late deglacial PF‐C remobilization observed in a Laptev Sea record, yet in contrast with PF‐C sources, which at that location were dominated by active layer material from the Lena River watershed. Release of dormant PF‐C from erosion of coastal permafrost during the end of the last deglaciation indicates vulnerability of Ice Complex Deposit in response to future warming and sea level changes.