Beyond the Permafrost Carbon Bomb: Insights and future directions for arctic and boreal wetland research
Dr. Claire Treat
Dept. of Environmental and Biological Sciences
University of Eastern Finland
One of the greatest challenges of the 21st century is understanding the effects, feedbacks, and adaptation of the earth system and critical zone to changing climate. In wetlands, biology, hydrology, and geology intersect in ways to produce dynamics that are unique within the landscape. Wetlands are also important for water quality, flood mitigation, wildlife habitat, recreation, scenic beauty, and as a globally significant soil carbon reservoir and source of atmospheric methane. In many northern wetlands, the carbon stored in peatlands is quite vulnerable to climate change because it is protected from decomposition, either by being inundated or frozen in permafrost. Environmental changes, such as permafrost thaw in boreal and tundra regions, can cause drastic changes in the critical zone. I will discuss recent advances in understanding the carbon and nitrogen feedbacks between these northern regions and climate through changes in greenhouse gas emissions related to permafrost thaw and other disturbances, as well as factors that still constitute large uncertainties.