Arctic Wetland Dynamics in Finland

What Are They Doing?

Wetland in northern FinlandWetland in northern Finland This project examined the poorly-understood interaction of climate change and microbial methane production in wetland soils in the Lapland region of Finland. The research team conducted field and lab experiments to determine the role of arctic wetlands in global carbon cycling. Similar experiments have also been completed by the research group in the Alaskan arctic, making this project part of an investigation into the potential global-scale response of arctic wetlands to impending climate changes.

The Arctic is experiencing the most dramatic warming due to climate change of all global systems. As arctic soils warm, the resulting rise in microbial activity increases emissions of carbon dioxide and methane, further accelerating global climate change. Because the vast majority of global carbon is stored in soils, and soil carbon is in flux with atmospheric carbon, soil microbes can either alter or exacerbate climate changes.

Methane is a powerful, carbon-based greenhouse gas, and wetlands are the largest natural source of methane to the atmosphere, but factors that influence net methane emissions from arctic wetland soils are not well understood. The Lapland region of northern Finland offered an ideal research environment because it has carbon-rich arctic wetlands different from those that exist in North America, offering the opportunity to comparatively study the controls on methane flux from arctic wetland ecosystems. More generally, carbon cycling research is critical for building accurate global climate models, which inform social and international climate change mitigation policies.

Where Are They?

Lake Kevo in northern FinlandLake Kevo in northern Finland The research team worked in a large bog, approximately 20km south of the University of Turku’s Kevo Research Station in the Lapland region of northern Finland. The research station is a comfortable facility with modern amenities. The 25 km distance between the field station and the field site was traveled by car, followed by a short hike out to the wetlands that were measured. The field site consisted of 150 meters of wooden boardwalks across a series of smaller wet areas where researchers can walk and measure without standing within the wetlands themselves.


Perfect Evening at Molnes
After an outstandingly busy summer once I returned home, I finally have time to sit and read through my journal entries. My initial response is: "wow, I did all that!" Thoughts from Finland tumble back into the forefront of my mind, and I now will attempt to get at least some of them down here. In reflecting back on the expedition, I see that so many thoughts and ideas were developed that I already think of this adventure as a beginning rather than having ended. However, I do need to bring closure to this set of journal entries. Thank you so much to PolarTREC for providing the tools,...
Norwegian Bus
It is time for this adventure to close. I walked up Puksa behind the research station this morning, for one last look out across Kevo Lake and the fells of the Utsjoki Valley. This really has been a fantastic place to live and learn, and I am sorry to leave. I feel I am leaving lots of new friends to stay in touch with. A favorite view: looking out from Puksa across the Research Station Peninsula to Kevo Lake. …But One Last Stop However, I am off to visit a friend in Tromso, Norway before heading back to Fairbanks. After Elina helped me with some Internet bus research, Kim took me...
Teabag Litterbags
Today is my last day at Kevo. Yesterday I had to say goodbye to the Petsikko Wetlands. We had a blast out there under a beautifully blue sky with enough cooling breeze to keep most of the bugs at bay. You just can't ask for more than that! One of the things I have learned heaps about while out here is how important soil microbes are. Not only are they important for the ecological role they play – decomposing dead stuff – but I now understand that, at least from wetlands, they are responsible for emitting greenhouse gasses. The Junior High School science textbooks I have used to support...
Patterned Mire
The gas measurements we have been doing since I arrived are providing the control gas fluxes for Kim's experiment. Later in the summer, Kim will be adding chemicals to half of the collars, in an effort to gain more insight into what controls methane flux in Arctic wetlands. Arctic Wetland Topography An Arctic wetland is by no means homogenous or static. Petsikko can be called a patterned mire. It contains depressions that are very wet, and raised areas that are relatively dry and so support different vegetation. Petsikko can be called a patterned mire. The raised areas support...
She has the data heebie-jeebies
Collecting data – the field work – is the fun stuff. That's all well and good, but at some point you have to sit down and figure out what story your data is telling you. Kim and I were able to sit down together these past two days so she could show me how to turn the data that comes out of the gas chromatograph into something meaningful. In the beginning… Kim set up some practice files for me, so I was able to load the real data from the gas chromatograph onto my computer. We used the data from the gas we collected on May 30, 2013. I remember that day in the field – it was a near record...

Expedition Resources

Project Information

18 May 2013 to 22 June 2013
Location: Kevo Research Station, Finland
Project Funded Title: Climate change, methane emissions and C-cycling dynamics in Finnish Arctic Wetlands

Meet the Team

Carol Scott's picture
Randy Smith Middle School
Fairbanks, AK
United States

Originally from Great Britain, Carol Scott now calls Alaska home. Carol has always loved learning about the natural world, and is passionate about sharing and learning with students. Although Carol has worked as a high school and junior high school classroom science teacher for 18 years, she came to teaching through her work with students in field science and trail construction programs. She constantly tries to incorporate ways to get her current Fairbanks junior high school students outdoors, and engaged in relevant, hands-on learning.

When not working with students, Carol tends to spend as much time as she can hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, skiing or floating. She is also a small aircraft pilot, and has worked as a backpacking and rafting guide in Alaska's amazing Brooks Range.

Kimberley Miller's picture
San Diego State University
San Diego, CA
United States

Kim Miller is a graduate student in the Joint-Doctoral Program in ecology between San Diego State University and the University of California at Davis. She is finishing her fourth year of study for her PhD, which focuses on the ecological controls on methane cycling in arctic wetland soils. More specifically, she is interested in the potential competitive interactions between greenhouse gas-producing microbial communities in the changing and dynamic global arctic regions. Her research has been conducted in the arctic wetlands surrounding Barrow, Alaska since 2010. Kim received a Fulbright IIE Grant for graduate research in Finland for 2012-2013. She was also awarded an American-Scandinavian Association Fellowship for the same project, location and time period.

This project will continue to explore microbial community dynamics and wetland carbon cycling, but in a region of the Arctic with a vastly different biogeochemical soil structure and a lack of the persistent permafrost found in arctic Alaska.You can read more about Kim's research here and here.

David Lipson's picture
San Diego State University
San Diego, CA
United States

David Lipson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at San Diego State University. His research interests include soil microbial ecology, plant-microbe interactions, and linking microbial diversity to ecosystem processes.

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