The Lakes in the Arctic Carbon Cycle (LAC) project.
It is well known that the Arctic is warming rapidly, with this warming believed to be contributing to an expansion of vegetation in a northerly direction. Arctic ‘greening’ has been observed in Alaska and tree expansion northwards is predicted to reach the coast of European Russia by 2100.
When new shrub or tree species grow, the nutrients that are released from the soil to lakes are expected to change. However, the precise changes are debated in the science community. These relationships between climate, vegetation and lakes may cause carbon storage or carbon release depending on lake biology and regional geography.
The Arctic is particularly sensitive to climate change and the vast stores of carbon in high latitude soils make this research especially important. Additional CO2 release to the atmosphere could speed up ice sheet melting and sea level rise.
This study will extract sediment cores from fieldwork sites across the Arctic with international collaborators including south-west Greenland at Sisimiut, European Russia (Komi Science Centre) and Alaska (National Park Service/South Central Brooks Range). Three teams will coordinate the fieldwork in the regional sites and then sediments from all cores will be shared between Nottingham, Loughbrough, University College London and Southampton universities for detailed ‘proxy’ analysis.
Sediment cores from lakes are excellent archives of environmental change, and so by studying past responses to climate change, over a geological time period known as the Holocene (~12,000 to present) we will be able to understand how carbon storage or release might be affected.
Key questions we aim to research…
Above: Conceptual diagram of sampling strategy
All lake sediments will be shared between laboratories in Nottingham, Loughborough, UCL and Southampton universities for specialist analysis. Taking regionally replicated samples will help us to increase our confidence of changes within regions, while repeating the study in different areas of the arctic will enable the study to compare the differences between regional response to past climate change.
Pigment analysis (using High-Performance Liquid Chromatography, HPLC)