IAB Research Project Description

Collaborative Research: Soil Carbon and its Control on Wetland Carbon Balance in Interior Boreal Alaska: Experimental Manipulation of Thermal Moisture Regimes

Credit: Courtesy of A. David McGuire

Any and all uses of these images must include photographer credit.

The goal of this project is to implement a replicated field experiment designed to test soil climate controls on carbon (C) cycling using climatic conditions outside of contemporary variability in peatlands. Our manipulations will be guided by future climate predictions for Interior Alaska, and thus will be useful for modeling the future C balance of poorly drained Alaska ecosystems.

The core of our proposed study is an intensive, replicated field manipulation of water table position, temperature, and water table x temperature interactions). Within this experimental framework, we will perform:

1) seasonal field measurements to document relationships between hydrology, soil temperatures, vegetation, and C fluxes,

2) field and laboratory studies to address climatic controls on nutrient availability, organic matter quality and substrate utilization during respiration,

3) synthesis of understanding gained from the field and laboratory studies using ecosystem models that represent the causal links between hydrology, thermal regimes, and C cycling, and

4) integration into regional modeling efforts that will evaluate how changing hydrological and climate conditions in Interior Alaska will influence the regional exchange of CO2 and CH4 with the atmosphere.

This research will address several fundamental questions regarding the fate of wetland C under a changing climate:

1.What is the strength of CO2 sinks and CH4 sources in the wetlands of Interior Alaska?

2.How do changes in vegetation composition and wetland processes, such as plant productivity and microbial metabolism, control CO2 and CH4 fluxes, and how will these controls be impacted by altered hydrology and soil thermal regimes in wetland ecosystems?

3.How are changing hydrological and climate conditions in interior Alaska influencing the causal links among hydrology, thermal regimes, and C cycling to affect the regional exchange of CO2 and CH4?

Project Funding

National Science Foundation
26 Mar 2009 – 30 Apr 2012
IAB Proposal #2006-130RV
UAF Grant #G4200
IAB Project #134

National Science Foundation
25 Mar 2009 – 30 Apr 2010
IAB Proposal #2008-079
UAF Grant #G4754
IAB Project #134

National Science Foundation
30 Jun 2007 – 31 May 2009
IAB Proposal #06-130RV
UAF Grant #G4200
IAB Project #134

Media Contact

Marie Thoms
Communications/Web Manager
Institute of Arctic Biology
302A Irving I
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7000
email: methoms@alaska.edu
phone: 907.474.7412