A probabilistic method of assessing carbon accumulation rate at Imnavait Creek Peatland, Arctic LTER, Alaska


Arctic peatlands are an important part of the global carbon cycle, accumulating atmospheric carbon as organic matter since the Late glacial. Current methods for understanding the changing efficiency of the peatland carbon sink rely on peatlands with an undisturbed stratigraphy. Here we present a method of estimating primary carbon accumulation rate from a site where permafrost processes have either vertically or horizontally translocated nearby carbon-rich sediment out of stratigraphic order. Briefly, our new algorithm estimates the probability of the age of deposition of a random increment of sediment in the core. The method assumes that if sediment age is measured at even depth increments, dates are more likely to occur during intervals of higher accumulation rate and vice versa. Multiplying estimated sedimentation rate by measured carbon density yields carbon accumulation rate. We perform this analysis at the Imnavait Creek Peatland, near the Arctic Long Term Ecological Research network site at Toolik Lake, Alaska. Using classical radiocarbon age modeling, we find unreasonably high rates of carbon accumulation at various Holocene intervals. With our new method, we find accumulation rate changes that are in improved agreement within the context of other sites throughout Alaska and the rest of the Circum-Arctic region.


Earth Systems Research Center

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Journal of Quaternary Science



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