The degradation of permafrost has accelerated in subarctic and arctic regions. The southern boundary of permafrost distribution
has receded northwards over the last decades, and the degradation has also increased in the arctic zone of
continuous permafrost. This process is expected to persist in the future due to climate warming, which is amplified in circumpolar regions. Almost half of the world’s soil organic C is stored in permafrost, largely in permanently frozen peat. The degradation of permafrost in peatlands is particularly threatening because it may turn peatlands from C sinks to C sources and accelerate climate change. However, the coupling between C and nutrient cycles is still poorly understood, and needs to be addressed to properly understand the impacts of permafrost thawing on the functioning of peatland ecosystems and their feedback on global climate. FROSTLAND addresses some of these uncertainties. The overall aims are to elucidate the fine-scale biogeochemical changes occurring in the active layer and in deep permafrost across gradients of permafrost thaw in subarctic and arctic peatlands and to improve fine- and broader-scale estimates of nutrient availability and of C and nutrient stocks in different global warming scenarios. FROSTLAND is based on a detailed research plan that has been accurately designed to address these knowledge gaps. The achievement of these objectives will require the acquisition of new knowledge and skills by the researcher, who will be trained at PLECO (UAntwerp) under the supervision of Prof. Janssens, an expert in soil biogeochemistry. A secondment to the Dept. Physical Geography (Stockholm Univ.) will be supervised by Prof. Hugelius, an expert in modelling and upscaling of C and nutrients in permafrost and peatlands. The work will be based on available datasets collected in permafrost peatlands in previous projects and also on new data acquisition. FROSTLAND is an essential step for the researcher's career success.
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