Under future warmer conditions ice in perennially frozen peatlands can melt, causing ground collapse and formation of thermokarst lakes. These landscape changes are of importance since they can have a significant effect on hydrology, greenhouse gas exchange and leaching of organic carbon from these carbon-rich environments. In this project, funded by the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning, a wide range of methods will be used to study and link closely connected aspects of permafrost and the carbon-climate feedback in a subarctic peat plateau complex in Tavvavuoma, northern Sweden. To develop a baseline quantification of the current landscape conditions, mapping of thermo-erosion features, current surface hydrology and permafrost distribution within the peat plateau complex will be performed using satellite images and airborne laser scanning. To identify key physical processes and critical thresholds driving the evolution of landscape changes analyses of ground temperature and meteorological data, and modeling of permafrost and hydrology will be conducted. Finally, analyses of soil organic carbon quantity and quality, and greenhouse gas fluxes from thermokarst lakes will be carried out to facilitate quantification of potential future carbon pool losses. The results of this project will increase our knowledge of landscape dynamics in subarctic peat plateau complexes and help us understand how permafrost peatlands will respond to future climate change, and what impact this could have on water cycling and the carbon balance.

Permafrost monitoring in Tavvavuoma
Permafrost monitoring in Tavvavuoma