Methane in warming Arctic lakes

Arctic landmasses and lakes release significant amounts of methane (CH4), a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global climate change. Yet, the effect of rapid warming in the Arctic and the fate of CH4 emissions is poorly understood, particularly over decadal to millennial timescales.

This project will foster a new platform for interdisciplinary climate research in Norway by bringing together a team of Quaternary scientists with world leading ancient DNA facilities and expertise. We seek to bring new insights to the contribution of Arctic ecosystems to the global carbon cycle and their sensitivity to climate change. By strengthening our understanding of long-term ecosystem processes that influence the release and degradation of CH4 in the Arctic, we will help constrain models of global climate change.

The recent advance of high-throughput sequencing to analyze ancient environmental DNA (eDNA), or paleogenomics, from Arctic lake sediment has increased analytical sensitivity and thus unlocked a wealth of new information on past ecosystems. We will combine paleogenomics with a robust paleoecological framework to determine the impact of climate change on microbial CH4 dynamics in high latitude lakes since the onset of the present interglacial, the Holocene, ~11,700 years ago. We will control for catchment processes underpinning microbial CH4 exchange, and isolate the influence of climate on their dynamics.

This interdisciplinary research relies on a unique collection of Arctic lake sediment cores from Greenland, mainland Norway and Svalbard.


This project is funded through KLIMAFORSK, the Research Council of Norway and is a collaboration with Alexandra Roulliard and Anders Schomacker, department of geosciences, University of Tromsø, Inger Greve Alsos, Tromsø Museum and Kurt Kjær, Natural History Museum of Denmark

Methane cycling archives from warming Arctic lakes: retrieving the genomic blueprints of Holocene microbes (PolarCH4ives)