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Current Projects

The permafrost climate feedback

Arctic and Boreal ecosystems contain a huge stockpile of organic matter. High latitudes are warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, and this abrupt defrost is triggering landscape collapse and the decomposition of permafrost carbon and nitrogen. We are using the water chemistry in stream networks around the Toolik Field Station to identify where and how permafrost is degrading and what happens to the carbon and nutrients liberated by thaw.

Key Questions

  1. How will carbon and nutrient balance in the permafrost zone change as the Arctic and Boreal thaw?
  2. How will permafrost degradation influence local ecosystems (distribution of vegetation and changes in aquatic food webs) and global teleconnections (biogeochemistry of the Arctic Ocean and the global climate system)?
  3. How much of this change can be avoided if human greenhouse gas emissions are reduced?