Permafrost is thawing at an unprecedented rate with rising temperatures in the Arctic. Permafrost thaw will expose large amount of nutrients and carbon to microbial decomposition with strong implications for C emission into the atmosphere.

Presently, there is a large knowledge gap on the effects of climate change during the cold season on permafrost thaw and tundra ecosystem functioning. There is also a great urgency to understand how climate change will combine with the action of other co-occurring environmental changes such as an increase in herbivory.

TERRA is a research project at the University of Bergen funded by the Norwegian research council  and running from 2022 to 2025.

In this project, we aim to develop a mechanistic understanding of the interactive effects of climate change during the cold season and increased goose herbivory pressure on permafrost thaw and cascading effects on microbial carbon and nitrogen cycling with a multidisciplinary approach.

Our study sites are located in the High Arctic tundra of Svalbard (northern Norway) and we explore our research questions both by innovative field and lab manipulations.

Combining new field techniques and state-of-the-art chemical and DNA-based measurements, TERRA investigate how warming, winter rainfall, and goose herbivory affect:

  • Permafrost thaw depth
  • Soil organic carbon degradation and N mineralization
  • Root-associated organisms in relation to their role in plant uptake and soil carbon sequestration
  • Microbial diversity and function in relation to carbon emission and soil nutrient transformation