Organo-Mineral Interactions in Permafrost Environments

Permafrost soils store large amounts of carbon (C) as organic matter (OM), which upon thaw can be decomposed to greenhouse gases that then fuel further global warming. The extent of permafrost disturbances is predicted to increase across Arctic landscapes, which may lead to enhanced release of permafrost OM to water bodies. On its way to the ocean, it can either be decomposed further – increasing the effect on climate – or buried and removed from active carbon cycling – limiting the effect on climate.

Close interactions between OM and minerals, such as physical protection and adsorption, may protect OM from decomposition. Yet, how this complex interplay of different mechanisms functions and evolves from soils to the marine environment is still poorly understood.

Here, we present our upcoming fieldwork campaign funded by INTERACT, where we will travel to the Zackenberg valley in Northeastern Greenland to investigate the role and evolution of organo-mineral interactions in preventing permafrost OM decomposition. We will use the opportunity of this blog to document our progress in the field mission and lab analyses.

This August 2019, we plan to collect soil samples from the active layer and permafrost at places of abrupt thaw (thermo-erosion gullies), water samples and stream sediments along the release path, as well as water and sediment samples close to where the material is discharged into Young Sound.

Back in the lab with our samples, we will quantify and characterize the OM and minerals in soils, water, and sediments with a range of different techniques.

Stay tuned for further interactions.

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