Biogeochemistry research group

Mission statement

Ecosystems can act as sources or sinks of several trace gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), nitrogen monoxide (NO), nitrous acid (HONO) and biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs). All these gases play an important role in climate change. Our mission is to increase knowledge on CO2, CH4, N2O, NO, HONO and BVOCs dynamics in agricultural, forest and permafrost soils and aquatic ecosystems and the biogeochemical and microbial processes behind the fluxes. 

We focus on studying effects of climate change and land use change on the biogeochemical cycles and on dynamics of gases important in the atmosphere. The conducted research spans various scales from molecules to ecosystems to landscape.

Our research is multidisciplinary and combines expertise of researches having different scientific backgrounds, e.g., microbiology, soil science, environmental sciences, molecular biology, limnology and atmospheric physics.

Our research areas include:

  • Analysis of greenhouse gas dynamics and carbon sequestration under changing temperature and hydrological conditions with specific emphases on thawing permafrost (effects of climate change)
  • Atmospheric and environmental impacts of biomass (bioenergy, agriculture) production on mineral and organic soils (forest biomass/agricultural biomass). We aim to develop sustainable biomass production systems which have efficient use of nutrients and low greenhouse gas emissions (effects of land use change)
  • Carbon and nitrogen cycling in aquatic ecosystems and the transport of carbon and nitrogen between terrestrial and aquatic systems
  • Effects of disturbance mechanisms on soil carbon pools and fluxes

Our basic research objectives include:

  • To investigate N2O uptake from the atmosphere in forest soils: mechanisms and microbiology underlying the consumption
  • To answer questions related to mechanisms behind our novel finding (Nature Geoscience; 2009) on extremely high N2O emissions from arctic soils
  • To study methane cycling in wetlands with emphases on anaerobic methane oxidation
  • To study microbial production and emission of nitrous acid (HONO) in northern soils
  • To study the fate of carbon in organic soils: an important unknown question related to the atmospheric impact of soil ecosystems, organic soils being the most critical (climate change, land use)
  • To investigate the vulnerability of carbon decomposition in thawing permafrost and in non-permafrost soils