Frozen swamps can become a source of large methane emissions

(ORDO NEWS) — In the context of global warming, an increase in temperature causes thawing of permafrost.

With the intensification of these processes, the frozen hilly swamps of Siberia and the Arctic can act as a dangerous source of methane emissions into the atmosphere, as well as lead to a change in river runoff regimes and the biogeochemical composition of river waters.

Researchers from the BioGeoKimia laboratory are exploring frozen hilly swamps in Siberia and the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation to find out the features of the transformation of these ecosystems and understand how they can affect climate change.

The project was supported by a grant from the Russian Science Foundation . “A changing climate transforms the environment and intensifies those processes that can lead to large-scale natural disasters,” says Tatyana Raudina, head of the scientific project, senior researcher at the BioGeoClim laboratory at TSU.

In particular, the thawing of permafrost is intensifying, which can lead to the release of climatically active gases, primarily methane, from frozen swamps. In particular, this applies to the swamps of the southern border of the permafrost zone.”

Being formed in the transitional climatic zone, these swamps, among others, undergo the most dramatic changes during climate warming. In order to find out how these ecosystems will transform in the future and what consequences this will entail, it is important to study them not only at the global, but also at the local levels.

As Tatyana Raudina notes, when modeling the future state of swamps, it is necessary to take into account spatial heterogeneity, which is expressed in the alternation of frozen peat mounds with flooded depressions (bogs, hollows, etc.).

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The objects of research by TSU scientists are two key areas on frozen hilly swamps in the northern taiga of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (TSU research base “Khanymei”) within the discontinuous distribution of permafrost.

As part of the project, in the new field season, scientists will conduct tacheometric and photogrammetric (UAV) surveys of the relief, which will show the heterogeneity of swamp microlandscapes, their number, height, area and ratios. It is also planned to assess the level of dissolved organic carbon and elemental composition (macro-, microelements) in swamp waters of different types of microrelief.

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Preliminary monitoring of the temperature regime of swamps in the south of the permafrost zone of Western Siberia, carried out by scientists from the BioGeoKimia laboratory, has already shown an increase in the depth of permafrost thawing.

As part of the new project, sensors will be installed on various elements of the bog microrelief for continuous temperature measurements and the features of their microclimatic conditions will be shown.

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Along with this, the scientists planned an experiment on the introduction of salt marks (NaCl) to identify the contribution of the microtopography of bogs to the final carbon sink from frozen bogs into the hydro network.

The use of a conservative salt tracer will help to study the process of water flow movement (speed, direction) depending on the heterogeneity of the site, the structure of the peat deposit, the amount of precipitation and the level of swamp waters.

This will help to understand how different elements of the microtopography and the structure of peat control the nature and extent of subsoil runoff and transport of dissolved substances.

New data obtained by scientists with the support of the Russian Science Foundation will make it possible to more accurately predict the change in wetland ecosystems under different scenarios of climate transformation.

This is extremely important not only for the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, but also for other territories, since swamps are an important climate-regulating factor.

We add that the study of climate and the environment is one of the research priorities of TSU. The development of this direction is carried out within the framework of the consortium “Global changes of the Earth: climate, ecology, quality of life” with the support of the state program “Priority 2030”.

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