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In order to estimate the effect of rising global temperatures on organic carbon (OC) stocks in the temperature-sensitivity Arctic environment, our project aims at investigating the transfer of terrestrial OC from permafrost soils to the Arctic Ocean. Detailed compositional analyses of bulk soil and sediments along a transport trajectory combined with compound-specific isotopic (13C and 14C) analysis of selected lipid biomarkers will be used to study alteration processes of organic matter occurring in the soil and its during transport. Sub-goals include to a) identify suitable biomarkers for soil organic carbon in permafrost soils, b) determine residence times of selected biomarkers in permafrost soils, fluvial and marine sediments, and c) quantify carbon transfer from source (soil) to sink (marine sediment) and its timescale.
The active layer, the annually freezing and thawing upper ground in permafrost areas, is of pivotal importance. The moisture and heat transfer characteristics of this layer also determine the boundary layer interactions of the underlying permafrost and the atmosphere and are therefore important parameters input for geothermal or climate modeling. Finally, changes in the characteristics of the permafrost and permafrost related processes may be used as indicators of global ecological change provided the system permafrost-active layer-atmosphere is understood sufficiently well. The dynamics of permafrost soils is measured with high accuracy and high temporal resolution at our two sites close to Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard. Using these continuous data we quantify energy balance components and deduce heat transfer processes such as conductive heat flux, generation of heat from phase transitions, and migration of water vapor.