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Large-scale carbon export to the Eurasian Artic shelf elucidated with molecular characterization and compound-specific radiocarbon assessment of black carbon and terrestrial organic matter (CARBON14ARCTIC)
Start date: 01 Oct 2008, End date: 30 Sep 2010 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"The pan-Arctic taiga and tundra holds >1/3 of the global pool of terrestrial-detrital carbon. Since climate models forecast the largest warming trends on Earth occurring in the Eurasian Arctic, there is urgent need to increase the understanding of its terrestrial carbon release and potential for large-scale climate effects thereon. An ambitious and advanced project is proposed to assess the export and biogeochemical fate (i.e. burial and/or degradation) of large-scale releases of terrestrial organic carbon (TOC) to the Eurasian Artic shelf (EAS) and to evaluate the effect of recent climate warming on TOC remobilization and degradation. To fulfill this aim, I propose a comprehensive analytical program, including molecular characterization of recalcitrant forms organic matter and compound-specific radiocarbon analysis (CSRA) of terrestrial lipid biomarkers, to a strategic sample set from the most vulnerable Eurasian Artic regions. The poorly studied EAS is the world´s largest continental shelf system, receiving large influxes of fire-derived and soil-released OC. This post-doc would contribute to a funded Swedish-Russian 45-day EAS expedition in 2008. This rare opportunity would obtain water and sediment samples from along-shelf and cross-shelf transects, covering most of the 4000 km climosequence of the EAS. Advanced CSRA and relative distributions analysis of a broad suite of lipid terrestrial biomarkers, would afford much improved understanding of TOC processing on the EAS, whereas similar analyses in dated sediment cores, correlated with climate indices (e.g. Arctic Oscillation), would reveal effects of recent climate change on the large-scale C cycle. Further, export of Siberian fire-derived black carbon (BC) would be assessed by a combination of chemothermal oxidation and benzenepolycarboxylic acids methods. Burial of recalcitrant BC in shelf sediments is an important but poorly constrained portion of the C cycle that hereby would be constrained for the EAS."
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