The global mass of soil organic carbon (SOC) is larger than the combined mass of carbon (C) contained in the atmosphere and in the living biomass (Ciais et al., 2013). The largest SOC stocks worldwide are located in wetlands and peatlands, most of which occur in the Arctic permafrost region (Hugelius et al. 2014) and in the Tropics (Page et al. 2011). The Arctic and the Tropics are affected by significant changes due to human impacts: the first one is facing dramatic increases in temperature even more than other regions due to global warming (AMAP 2017), the latter is affected by rapid land use change from forest to agriculure, especially oil palm (Miettinen et al. 2016). These factors in turn deeply affect these carbon rich areas that are turning from a sink of C to a source emitting significant amount of greenhouse gases such as CO2 and CH4 (Schuur et al. 2015; Warren et al. 2016). Consequently, even small changes in the mass of SOC can have significant effects on the concentration of atmospheric CO2 and CH4 and hence climate change (Myhre et al., 2013).
Within this context my research program focuses at understanding how climate change and land-use change affect the allocation, cycling, and residence time of C in some of the richest C environments on our planet (peatlands and permafrost). In turn, my studies further the science of terrestrial ecosystem feedbacks to the climate system, i.e. by constraining future levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
To monitor and predict changes in the cycling of C in terrestrial ecosystems, I apply field observations from natural soil and experiments. I use a variety of biogeochemical tools, including the analysis of trace gases (CO2, CH4), their stable C isotopes and radiocarbon content (14C-AMS) and soil incubation.
So far my research activities have been concentrated from ecosystems in the high latitudes (Lapland, Greenland, Svalbard and Alaska) –to the tropics (Brunei and Malaysia).
Carbon budget in tropical peat swamp forest under land-use change
Carbon loss from tropical peatlands after fire events
Carbon cycling in permafrost