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Invited researcher Guggenberger Georg
Contract number
Time span of the project

As of 15.02.2021

Number of staff members
scientific publications
Objects of intellectual property
General information

Name of the project: Future of carbon in natural ecosystems on permafrost in Siberia: analysis of processes and vulnerability

Strategy for Scientific and Technological Development Priority Level: ж

Goals and objectives

Research directions: Evaluation of response of ecosystems of the cryolite zone to climate change, analysis and forecasting of dynamics of vegetation and biogenous element cycles in the geosphere at ecosystem, landscape and regional levels

Project objective: Assessing deposits of organic substance in cryogenic soils of Siberian ecosystems and analysis of processes influencing carbon balance in connection with permafrost degradation

The practical value of the study
  1. It has determined that increasing temperature stimulates the productivity of plants in the Arctic, therefore the formation of the «priming effect», in which the velocity of decomposition of SOM (soil organic matter) by the microbial complex in the presence of plant roots can increase by up to four times, can be especially relevant in the thawing of permafrost. On the basis of a meta-analysis of a database of high-resolution data on the spatial distributions of plants dominant in the Arctic, we have compared, a database on the volume of the seasonal thawing layer, and empirical data on the impact of the «priming effect» of living plants on microbial respiration. It has been shown than in soils on permafrost, the rhizosphere «priming effect» (RPE) increases the soil respiration by about 12 per cent. Thus, the loss of organic carbon in the form of greenhouse gases from soils in the Arctic regions caused by the RPE will reach ~40 Pg by the year 2100.
  2. Data of five-year observations of the dynamics of greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4) emissions from field incubation experiments with buried soil in the zone of continuous propagation of permafrost imitating natural organic matter stabilisation processes (the tundra ecosystem, the delta of the Lena river, the Samoylovsky island) have shown that the greenhouse gas emission depends directly on the temperature of the upper horizons of soil (0 to 7 cm), while the natural ecosystems located in the permafrost zone have a sufficiently efficient mechanism of greenhouse gas emission inhibition (for instance, methanotrophic microbial associations with moss and lichens), and only urgent climate threats can provoke unpredictable emissions of carbon dioxide and methane.

Education and career development:

  • Leibniz University Hannover (Germany): master's degree course «Biogeochemical cycles in the "soil-atmosphere" system: processes and mechanisms»;
  • Saint Petersburg State University: master's degree course «Greenhouse gases in the permafrost zone»;
  • Siberian Federal University: master's degree courses «Ecology of microorganisms in extreme habitats», «Analysis of multispectral satellite images».


  • Institute of Soil Science, Leibniz University Hannover (Germany): joint research - we have accumulated new knowledge on the features of the processes of transformation and stabilisation of organic matter in permafrost soils. A correlation has been established between the formation and distribution of deposits of soil organic matter in ecosystems of the cryolithic zone of Siberia. A quantitative estimate of the vulnerability of soil organic matter and the potential loss of soil carbon in the context of climate change has been provided.
  • Technical University in Zvolen, Faculty of Forestry (Slovakia): joint research - unique information has been obtained concerning the features of soil forest sites of permafrost forest ecosystems on the Putorana Plateau n Krasnoyarsk Krai. We have determined the overall content of carbon, nitrogen, and stable isotopes. The granulometric composition of soil, phosphorus available to plants, the concentration of K, Ca, Mg, and Fe exchange cations have been determined. The obtained data, along with dendrological analysis data, allowed to determine the long-term impact of the climate factors on the functioning of the permafrost ecosystems in the permafrost zone of Krasnoyarsk Krai.
  • Stockholm University, Department of Physical Geography (Sweden): joint research — an investigation has been carried out to determine the content of carbon, nitrogen and their isotopes in organic mineral horizons of soils of ecosystems on permafrost in Yakutia depending on the climate and forest conditions.
  • International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg (Austria): joint research - the participation in the preparation of an expert conclusion on the assessment of the adequacy of methods of determination of carbon deposits in soil and in major wood scraps on forestry lands proposed in «Methodological guidelines on the quantitative determination of the volume of absorbed greenhouse gases».
  • Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI), Saint Petersburg (Russia): joint research - in a collaborative expedition of season 65 of the Russian Antarctic Expedition, we have conducted a research of greenhouse gas flows and element of the carbon cycle in marine and ground ecosystems in the region of the Russian Antarctic Station «‎Bellingshausen», the Fildes Peninsula, the King George island, the Southern Shetland Islands (Western Antarctic).The works included microbiological, hydrochemical, hydrophysical, geocryological, hydrological, and ecological observations to gather new data on the cycling of carbon and flows of greenhouse gases in ground landscape and marine ecosystems of the Fildes Peninsula.
  • Siberian Federal University, Krasnoyarsk (Russia): joint research - a study of the metabolic activity of cryogenic soils of sub-Arctic Siberia in relation to «green» bioplastics. The capability of the microbial community of cryogenic soils of larch forests of Central Siberia to metabolise the degradable microbial bioplastic, poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (P3HB). We have isolated and identified the bacteria and microscopic fungi that are the most active in relation to P3HB decomposition.

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Evgrafova S., Zverev A., Abakumov E., Detsura A., Prokushkin A.
Metagenomic analysis as a bioinformatics tool to reconstruct the geochemical methane‑driving processes in bottom sediments of the Yenisei River. BMC Bioinformatics 21(Suppl 20):567 (2020)
Mukhortova, L., Schepaschenko, D., Moltchanova, E., Shvidenko, A., Khabarov, N., & See, L.
Respiration of Russian soils: climatic drivers and response to climate change. Science of the Total Environment 785:147314. (2021)
Prudnikova, S.V., Evgrafova, S.Y. and Volova, T.G.
Metabolic activity of cryogenic soils in the subarctic zone of Siberia towards “green” bioplastics. Chemosphere 263: 128180 (2021)
Masyagina, O.V., Evgrafova, S.Y., Menyailo, O.V., Mori, S., Koike, T. and Prokushkin, S.G.
Age-Dependent Changes in Soil Respiration and Associated Parameters in Siberian Permafrost Larch Stands Affected by Wildfire. Forests 12 (1): 107 (2021)
Mukhortova L., Pashenova N., Meteleva M., Krivobokov L., Gugenberger G.
Temperature sensitivity of CO2 CH4 fluxes from coarse woody debris in Northern boreal forests. Forests 12 (5): 624 (2021)
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