Summer 2022

Summer field campaign in northern tundra : lower Indigirka River, Russian Arctic

Part of the PRISMARCTYC team travelled to the Russian High Arctic region to track the current development of hillslope water tracks and associated fluxes in different geological contexts

The overarching goal of the PRISMARCTYC project is to relate changing climate and permafrost degradation with subsequent changes in soils, water bodies, climate-relevant gas fluxes, and societies. Our team of four brave Russian researchers traveled to the Northern Indigirka region, where climate is already warming at a pace 25% higher than regional average and is projected to warm further by over 2°C by mid-century.

Tundra landscape of the region of Indigirka. Nikita Tananaev
Tundra landscape of the region of Indigirka. © Nikita Tananaev

The High Arctic tundra landscape of the Northern Indigirka region is dominated by rolling hills with sparse vegetation underlain either by permafrost with high ice content in its westward section, or by Cretaceous and Jurassic rocks toward the east. Contemporary permafrost degradation in the region is limited to hillslopes where water tracks of various size and morphology are abundant, conveying water and dissolved components toward the Indigirka River. Their future in the warmer climate is still poorly understood, therefore we moved northward from our usual study site in central Yakutia and turned to these features uniting hydrology, geomorphology and permafrost.

Sampling of water from a creek (Indigirka). Nikita Tananaev
Sampling of water from a creek (Indigirka). © Nikita Tananaev
Measurement of greenhouse gases in a pond (Indigirka). Nikita Tananaev
Measurement of greenhouse gases in a pond (Indigirka). © Nikita Tananaev

A team comprised of two soil scientists and two hydrologists, sampled typical regional soils for basic chemistry and soil carbon content, also took samples from major water objects including water tracks, floodplain thermokarst lakes, rivers, and ground ice, and performed dark chamber measurements of carbon dioxide and methane fluxes, the two most potent climate-relevant gases. As with other forms of permafrost degradation elsewhere, our ultimate goal was to collect field evidence of how the development of hillslope water tracks over the previously undisturbed terrain affects water and chemical fluxes, and climate-relevant gas emissions.

Thawing of ice-rich permafrost (Indigirka). Nikita Tananaev
Thawing of ice-rich permafrost (Indigirka). © Nikita Tananaev

Besides, we continue to sample ground ice in the Arctic to better understand its origin and age through its isotopic and hydrochemical signatures.

August 2022

New study area for permafrost: Yukon, Canada.

Researchers from the international PRISMARCTYC project, counting team from GEOPS and LSCE laboratories, went to Yukon in Canada to collect data on the impacts of Arctic permafrost thaw on the carbon cycle.

Global warming is two to three times greater in the Arctic than elsewhere on the planet. In northern Canada, in the Yukon region, as in some areas of Siberia, the ground is frozen (permafrost) and contains a large amount of ice (70% by volume) making it vulnerable to climate variations. This rapid warming is already leading to permafrost thawing, causing the ground to subside, and the formation of many lakes by melting ice. Organic carbon and other inorganic elements (50% of total terrestrial soil stocks), previously trapped in the permafrost, are released into aquatic systems. Micro-organisms convert the newly available highly biodegradable organic carbon into greenhouse gases, thereby amplifying global warming.

Lac formé par le dégel du pergélisol. Zone de forêt brûlé en mai 2019. © Antoine Séjourné
Lake formed by thawing permafrost. Burned forest area in May 2019. © Antoine Séjourné

The team of French, Canadian, American and Japanese researchers studied an area near the Alaskan border where many lakes are actively developing as the permafrost thaws. The aim of the mission was to collect water, gas, soil and permafrost samples. Our multidisciplinary approach includes geomorphology, remote sensing, hydrology-hydrogeology, microbiology and geochemistry.

Échantillonnage du pergélisol riche en glace. © Antoine Séjourné
Sampling of ice-rich permafrost. © Antoine Séjourné

This area of boreal forest subject to frequent forest fires is little studied compared to the tundra to the north. This new site is compared with sites in Siberia already studied by Russian researchers involved in the project. A better knowledge and understanding of the changes in the carbon and hydrological cycle in the Arctic is a fundamental challenge for predicting the impacts of climate change on a global scale.

Échantillonnage et filtration d’eau issue du dégel du pergélisol. © Antoine Séjourné
Sampling and filtration of water from thawing permafrost. © Antoine Séjourné

15 June 2022

Two PhD program has been approved in the project for a duration of 3 years (2022-2025) :

Sara OLLIVIER has been selected at GEOPS laboratory (University Paris Saclay, supervisor Antoine Séjourné) and EcoLab (Université Toulouse, supervisor Laure Gandois) with the subject : “Drivers of organic carbon transfers and dynamic in thermokarst lakes in the Arctic : role of permafrost degradation intensity, hydrogeological processes, and seasonal variations “. This PhD will be part of WP 2.


Arthur Szylit has been selected at LOG laboratory (University Littoral Côte d’Opale, supervisor Urania Christaki) and DEEM laboratory (University Paris Saclay, Ludwig Jardillier) with the subject : “Role of microorganisms in greenhouse gas fluxes from wetlands formed by permafrost degradation in the Arctic”. This PhD will be part of WP 3.

Arthur Szylit

12 June 2022

Two posters have been presented at the Scientific Days organized by the CNFRAA between 10th and 12 June 2022.

CNFRAA workshop has become a key event for research in polar and sub-polar environments in France.

It is a multidisciplinary and open workshop to all researchers in polar and sub-polar environments (Physical Sciences, Geosciences, Life Sciences and Humanities and Social Sciences), they contribute to the promotion of research work and encourage discussions and exchanges, particularly between young researchers and experienced polar researchers.

15 February 2022

Due to the geopolitical situation in Ukraine, the field campaign for summer 2022 has been divided between Central Yakutia for the Russian team and a new site in Yukon for the French-Japanese-American team.

15 November 2021

Several meetings inside every WP have been organized to discuss objectives and methods in order to have a common field protocols and laboratory analysis. Several discussions have been focuses on the results of the exploratory campaign in Central Yakutia and Chersky regions during autumn 2021 campaign.

1 August 2021

Due to travel restrictions, no extensive field studies were possible during summer 2021 but some exploratory sampling of different lakes and rivers in Central Yakutia and Kolyma area were fortunately possible.

These data are currently analyzed and discussed during videoconference to prepare the 2022 summer field campaigns. At the same time, outreach activities about permafrost and climate change with primary schools in France and in Yakutia are continuing. These tested activities will serve to build a handbook for teachers with DYI activities which is one of the outcomes of the project.

5 July 2021

The kick-off meeting of the PRISMARCTYC project through online videoconference of all participants occurred between 5th and 7th July 2021.

The objectives were to present each participant of the consortium, define the protocols and sampling strategy for all WPs.

The chosen time was half-day to allow every participant from Fairbanks to Japan with Europe and Yakutia to participate in.

The 5th of July was focused on getting to know each other with round table, a reminder of the objective of project and Work Packages as well as presentation of field sites.

The 6th of July was focused on sampling method and protocols with discussion about communication, promotion of the project and PhD programs.

The 7th of July was focused on a workshop about Communication and Education toward local communities which is WP 6. The objectives was to present the different activities about education and outreach activities.

1 April 2021

PRISMARCTYC project has been successfully funded

A new project has been successfully funded by the Belmont Forum organization with the call “Towards Sustainability of Soils and Groundwater for Society”.

The PRISMARCTYC project is in a maturation phase to strengthen the consortium.