ERC-Synergy Project Q-ARCTIC



  • For future climate change, strong warming is predicted for high northern latitudes
  • Permafrost soils in these regions show enormous carbon reservoirs

► Future warming may destabilize the permafrost carbon pool, leading to important feedbacks with climate change


Investigating Non-Linear Change at Smallest Scales

  • Many Arctic landscapes feature smallest-scale structures
  • Non-linear disturbance processes triggered by future climate change may create new structures
  • Even a minor disturbance can cause substantial shifts in microsite structure, and modify carbon & energy budgets

Goal: We want to simulate Arctic carbon budgets considering the net impact of disturbances at smallest scales. 

Synergy Concept: 4 Disciplines, 3 Scaling Levels

In-situ observations

  • Investigate disturbance sequences with small-scale, process-oriented field work
  • Landscape-scale observations with tall eddy-covariance towers
  • Emissions from open-water using floating chamber approaches
  • Pan-Arctic data syntheses

Regional quantifications

  • Use atmospheric inversions to check upscaling, model parameterizations and model evaluation
  • “Local” scale (20-200km domain): Support for upscaling from point observations to ESM model grid
  • Pan-Arctic scale: regional checks on upscaling and model evaluation

Remote sensing

  • Monitoring wetting vs. drying
  • Pan-Arctic products to quantify climate change impacts
  • New methods to identify sub-surface conditions in the terrestrial Arctic
  • Use of SAR/InSAR data to detect e.g. loss of ground ice in active layer at very high resolution

Earth system modeling

  • Land-surface model JSBACH, component of ICON-ESM
  • Simulate pathway-dependent dynamics of permafrost C-storage
  • Close the gap between process-scale and ESM-scale with statistical approaches
  • Include disturbance impacts

Key Research Questions

Overcome Methodological Gaps

  • The scaling gap between process level and model/satellite grid resolution
  • Knowledge gaps regarding net disturbance impacts on carbon and energy budgets
  • Gaps in synergy between in-situ data, satellite data and modeling frameworks

Will the Arctic become a corbon source in the future?

  • What scales do we need to resolve to capture the relevant processes?
  • How will changes in land surface properties influence the budgets of carbon and energy? What will be the impact of e.g.
    • Permafrost degradation, disturbance
    • Shifts in hydrologic conditions
    • Shifts in soil thermal regime, thaw depth


Long-Term Vision

  • First step towards an operational monitoring framework focusing on Arctic biogeochemistry
  • Pave the way for the exploitation of upcoming data streams

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