PERMATRANS - The permafrost transect – effects of climate change and land use on permafrost and carbon dynamics in soils along a climate gradient across the Tibetan Plateau

Permafrost-soils, especially on the Tibetan Plateau, are subject to highly dynamic changes resulting fromglobal warming. These effects occur together with the emission of the tracer gases CH4, N2O und CO2, and with a growing number of pasture causing overgrazing and soil degradation (e.g. decrease of organic matter content in the soils). The PERMATRANS joint project aims to quantify the changes of the soil structure, as well as its carbon-dynamics and greenhouse gas emissions. These investigations allow the spatial differentiation of soils as either carbon-source or -sink areas, respectively and also permit the survey of geohazard potential of greenhouse gas emissions in the realm of the Tibet Plateau.

The formation rates of the trace gases CH4 and CO2 are so far well investigated, but there is a lack in knowledge concerning their relationship with the spatial arrangement of controlling soil properties, so that predictions and risk assessments with regard to climate change are still subject to large uncertainty.

How do the carbon-pools change when permafrost is continuously melting? What are the consequences for the soils’ functions concerning CH4 and CO2 emissions?

The permafrost indicators of carbon dynamics  are detected at several key  locations along a 1.500 km long transect in altitudes between  4600 and 5100 m on the Tibet Plateau.

According to the technical skills required to cope with this approach, the project is divided into two work packages.  While part 1 is concerned with permafrost-soil dynamics, pedogenesis and the carbon reserves, part 2 is divided into the sub-topics of methanogenesis   and methane oxidation.


Involved institutes and working groups

Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Fachbereich Geographie, AG Physische Geographie und Bodenkunde

Institut für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Potsdam

Helmholtz Zentrum München, Institut für Bodenökologie