Jean Holloway


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Carbon and nitrogen cycling dynamics following permafrost thaw in the Northwest Territories, Canada
Catherine M. Dieleman, Nicola J. Day, Jean Holloway, Jennifer L. Baltzer, Thomas A. Douglas, M. R. Turetsky
Science of The Total Environment, Volume 845

Rapid climate warming across northern high latitudes is leading to permafrost thaw and ecosystem carbon release while simultaneously impacting other biogeochemical cycles including nitrogen. We used a two-year laboratory incubation study to quantify concomitant changes in carbon and nitrogen pool quantity and quality as drivers of potential CO2 production in thawed permafrost soils from eight soil cores collected across the southern Northwest Territories (NWT), Canada. These data were contextualized via in situ annual thaw depth measurements from 2015 to 2019 at 40 study sites that varied in burn history. We found with increasing time since experimental thaw the dissolved carbon and nitrogen pool quality significantly declined, indicating sustained microbial processing and selective immobilization across both pools. Piecewise structural equation modeling revealed CO2 trends were predominantly predicted by initial soil carbon content with minimal influence of dissolved phase carbon. Using these results, we provide a first-order estimate of potential near-surface permafrost soil losses of up to 80 g C m−2 over one year in southern NWT, exceeding regional historic mean primary productivity rates in some areas. Taken together, this research provides mechanistic knowledge needed to further constrain the permafrost‑carbon feedback and parameterize Earth system models, while building on empirical evidence that permafrost soils are at high risk of becoming weaker carbon sinks or even significant carbon sources under a changing climate.


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Impact of wildfire on permafrost landscapes: A review of recent advances and future prospects
Jean Holloway, Antoni G. Lewkowicz, Thomas A. Douglas, Xiaodong Wu, M. R. Turetsky, Jennifer L. Baltzer, Huijun Jin
Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, Volume 31, Issue 3

Changes in the frequency and extent of wildfires are expected to lead to substantial and irreversible alterations to permafrost landscapes under a warming climate. Here we review recent publications (2010–2019) that advance our understanding of the effects of wildfire on surface and ground temperatures, on active layer thickness and, where permafrost is ice‐rich, on ground subsidence and the development of thermokarst features. These thermal and geomorphic changes are initiated immediately following wildfire and alter the hydrology and biogeochemistry of permafrost landscapes, including the release of previously frozen carbon. In many locations, permafrost has been resilient, with key characteristics such as active layer thickness returning to pre‐fire conditions after several decades. However, permafrost near its southern limit is losing this resiliency as a result of ongoing climate warming and increasingly common vegetation state changes. Shifts in fire return intervals, severity and extent are expected to alter the trajectories of wildfire impacts on permafrost, and to enlarge spatial impacts to more regularly include the burning of tundra areas. Modeling indicates some lowland boreal forest and tundra environments will remain resilient while uplands and areas with thin organic layers and dry soils will experience rapid and irreversible permafrost degradation. More work is needed to relate modeling to empirical studies, particularly incorporating dynamic variables such as soil moisture, snow and thermokarst development, and to identify post‐fire permafrost responses for different landscape types and regions. Future progress requires further collaboration among geocryologists, ecologists, hydrologists, biogeochemists, modelers and remote sensing specialists.