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    Biogeosciences

    202403202403

    Impact of permafrost degradation on the extreme increase of dissolved iron concentration in the Amur river during 1995–1997

    Yuto Tashiro, Tetsuya Hiyama, Hironari Kanamori, Masayuki KondoYuto Tashiro, Tetsuya Hiyama, Hironari Kanamori, Masayuki Kondo

    Amur river, Dissolved iron, Permafrost, Climate change, Pacific decadal oscillation

    Primary production in the Sea of Okhotsk is largely supported by dissolved iron (dFe) transported by the Amur river, indicating the importance of dFe discharge from terrestrial environments. However, little is known about the mechanisms of dFe discharge into the Amur river, especially in terms of long-term change in dFe concentration. In the Amur river, extreme increase in dFe concentration was observed between 1995 and 1997, the cause of which remains unclear. As a cause of this iron anomaly, we considered the impact of permafrost degradation. To link the permafrost degradation to long-term variation in dFe concentration, we examined the changes in annual air temperature (Ta), accumulated temperature (AT), and net precipitation for three regions (northeast, south, and northwest) of the basin between 1960 and 2006. Ta and AT were relatively high in one out of every few years, and were especially high during 1988–1990 continuously. Net precipitation in late summer (July to September) has increased since 1977 and has stayed positive until 2006 throughout the basin. Most importantly, we found significant correlations between Ta and late summer dFe concentration with a 7-year lag (r = 0.54–0.69, p < 0.01), which indicate a close relationship between high Ta in year Y and increased late summer dFe concentration in year Y + 7. This correlation was the strongest in northeastern Amur basin where permafrost coverage is the highest. Similar 7-year lag correlation was also found between AT in the northeastern basin and late summer dFe concentration (r = 0.51, p < 0.01). Based on our findings, we propose the following hypothesis as a cause of iron anomaly. (1) Increased net precipitation since 1977 has increased soil moisture, which created suitable conditions for microbial dFe generation; (2) permafrost degradation during the warm years of 1988–1990 promoted iron bioavailability and led to the intensive dFe generation in the deeper part of the active layer; and (3) dFe took approximately 7 years to reach the rivers and extremely increased dFe concentration during 1995–1997. This is the first study to suggest the time-lagged impact of permafrost degradation on iron biogeochemistry in the Amur river basin.