The Arctic is characterized by vast amounts of carbon stored in permafrost and a rapidly evolving landscape and is thus an important focal point for the study of climate change. High latitudes have experienced the greatest regional warming in recent decades and are projected to warm twice as much as the rest of the globe by the end of the twenty-first century. Increasing our confidence in climate projections for high-latitude regions of the world will require a coordinated set of investigations that target improved process understanding and model representation of important ecosystem-climate feedbacks. Understanding the turnover times of carbon released due to thawing permafrost is critical for modeling the decomposition of organic matter by microbial activity. The DOE Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiments in the Arctic (NGEE Arctic) seeks to address this challenge by quantifying the physical, chemical, and biological behavior of terrestrial ecosystems at specified locations in Alaska. This aspect of the project focuses on understanding the role of microbial communities from samples collected near Barrow, Alaska in cycling of carbon and regulation of greenhouse gas fluxes at the NGEE site. Although microbes are recognized as key players in these processes, their contribution is poorly incorporated into existing climate models. This deficiency is largely due to the difficulty in study of largely uncultivated and unknown permafrost microbes. This project aims to use a variety of sequencing approaches to determine the phylogenetic and functional composition of the microbial community in permafrost soil.
PI: Janet Jansson, LBNL