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Project Description: - Landform mapping of the periglacial and glacial structures using remote sensing / aerial photography and field observation - Genetic studies of ground ice using geochemical and stable isotope techniques - Studies of microbial life in extreme periglacial environment
The goal is to understand, how bacteria in Arctic sediments are adapted to low temperature and how (climatic) changes of temperature may affect the rate and pathways of carbon cycling and the balance of mineral cycles. The diversity and physiology of bacterial populations of fjord sediments on West-Spitzbergen will be studied by a combination of molecular (16S rRNA sequence analyses and in situ hybridization) and microbiological (isolation and physiology of pure cultures) approaches. The metabolic activity of these bacteria in the sea floor and the temperature regulation of the dominant mineralization processes will be analysed by experimentel techniques during the research period in Ny Ålesund. The focus will be on the enzymatic cleavage of polymeric carbohydrates, the anaerobic respiration through sulfate reduction, the reduction of iron and mangenese oxides, and the turnover of volatile fatty acids and hydrogen. Subsequently, psychrophilic bacteria are isolated from the anoxic sediments and studied in pure culture. The bacterial populations in the sediment are studied by molecular methods to analyze their diversity and metabolic activity.