The CarboPerm project is an interdisciplinary German-Russian cooperation project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). It gains a more fundamental understanding of the consequences of the climate warming for Siberian Arctic soils. Therefore, the main focus will be on the formation, turnover and release of organic carbon within the frozen soils (permafrost soils). Due to permafrost thawing, the stored organic material becomes bio-available and accessible for microbial degradation. The involved microorganisms (bacteria and archaea) use the plenty available organic material as basis for their microbial metabolism in which the greenhouse relevant gases methane and carbon dioxide are produced. These gases can be released into the atmosphere and could result in a positive climate warming feedback.
Within the working packages 5 “Microbial transformation in permafrost soils and sediments” the biogeochemical traces (biomarker) of the microbial community, especially those involved in the methane production (methanogens) are investigated in recent and fossil permafrost deposits from different past cold and warm climate periods in order to characterize the distribution and composition of these microbial communities against a paleo-climate background. The findings will be used to predict future changes in the methane producing communities with regards to the general climate warming. Furthermore, the quality of the organic material as potential substrate for the methanogenic communities will be investigated. Therefore, the focus is not only on the free, minor organic acids (e.g. acetate) within the pore water, but also on the acids which are still bounded to the organic matrix and possess of a prospective substrate potential.