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A shift of thermokarst lakes from carbon sources to sinks during the Holocene epoch

Overview of attention for article published in Nature, July 2014
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (97th percentile)
  • Good Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (65th percentile)

Mentioned by

7 news outlets
1 blog
1 policy source
25 tweeters
1 Wikipedia page
1 Google+ user


207 Dimensions

Readers on

321 Mendeley
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A shift of thermokarst lakes from carbon sources to sinks during the Holocene epoch
Published in
Nature, July 2014
DOI 10.1038/nature13560
Pubmed ID

K. M. Walter Anthony, S. A. Zimov, G. Grosse, M. C. Jones, P. M. Anthony, F. S. Chapin III, J. C. Finlay, M. C. Mack, S. Davydov, P. Frenzel, S. Frolking


Thermokarst lakes formed across vast regions of Siberia and Alaska during the last deglaciation and are thought to be a net source of atmospheric methane and carbon dioxide during the Holocene epoch. However, the same thermokarst lakes can also sequester carbon, and it remains uncertain whether carbon uptake by thermokarst lakes can offset their greenhouse gas emissions. Here we use field observations of Siberian permafrost exposures, radiocarbon dating and spatial analyses to quantify Holocene carbon stocks and fluxes in lake sediments overlying thawed Pleistocene-aged permafrost. We find that carbon accumulation in deep thermokarst-lake sediments since the last deglaciation is about 1.6 times larger than the mass of Pleistocene-aged permafrost carbon released as greenhouse gases when the lakes first formed. Although methane and carbon dioxide emissions following thaw lead to immediate radiative warming, carbon uptake in peat-rich sediments occurs over millennial timescales. We assess thermokarst-lake carbon feedbacks to climate with an atmospheric perturbation model and find that thermokarst basins switched from a net radiative warming to a net cooling climate effect about 5,000 years ago. High rates of Holocene carbon accumulation in 20 lake sediments (47 ± 10 grams of carbon per square metre per year; mean ± standard error) were driven by thermokarst erosion and deposition of terrestrial organic matter, by nutrient release from thawing permafrost that stimulated lake productivity and by slow decomposition in cold, anoxic lake bottoms. When lakes eventually drained, permafrost formation rapidly sequestered sediment carbon. Our estimate of about 160 petagrams of Holocene organic carbon in deep lake basins of Siberia and Alaska increases the circumpolar peat carbon pool estimate for permafrost regions by over 50 per cent (ref. 6). The carbon in perennially frozen drained lake sediments may become vulnerable to mineralization as permafrost disappears, potentially negating the climate stabilization provided by thermokarst lakes during the late Holocene.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 25 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 321 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United States 9 3%
Germany 3 <1%
United Kingdom 3 <1%
Canada 2 <1%
Brazil 1 <1%
Sweden 1 <1%
Netherlands 1 <1%
Switzerland 1 <1%
Japan 1 <1%
Other 1 <1%
Unknown 298 93%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Ph. D. Student 84 26%
Researcher 58 18%
Student > Master 43 13%
Student > Bachelor 24 7%
Student > Doctoral Student 20 6%
Other 54 17%
Unknown 38 12%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Earth and Planetary Sciences 110 34%
Environmental Science 87 27%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 36 11%
Engineering 6 2%
Chemistry 5 2%
Other 12 4%
Unknown 65 20%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 78. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 09 October 2021.
All research outputs
of 20,710,163 outputs
Outputs from Nature
of 86,459 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 201,905 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Nature
of 879 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 20,710,163 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 98th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 86,459 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 96.6. This one has done well, scoring higher than 77% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 201,905 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 97% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 879 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 65% of its contemporaries.