Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

NSIDC Cryosphere Seminar

Ecological Responses of Thermokarst Lakes in the Arctic by Deniz Vural, Research scientist at the Polar Research Institute, The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK)

ABSTRACT: Thermokarst lakes or thaw and tundra depressions have generally formed during the course of the Holocene, the time since the last ice age. They are a sign of local permafrost degradation following post glacial climate warming. Regarding remaining frozen ground, permafrost has a crucial role playing in the carbon cycle, which is the collection of processes to exchange carbon between the atmosphere, ocean, land and the organisms they contain. As the Earth warms, there will be feedback on how these processes could change and atmospheric CO2 concentrations rise. Furthermore, thawing of permafrost can release additional carbon into the atmosphere. 

Overall, climate change will cause the carbon cycle to weaken that will lead to more emissions likely to remain in the atmosphere and less being absorbed by the land and oceans. All of the mentioned processes cause uncertainty when future CO2 emissions are translated into changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. For instance, even though not all these feedbacks will lead to an increasing temperature, there is a dynamic response through vegetation change to warming climate which includes potential shifts in vegetation as regional climate change brings crucial but uncertain effects to the carbon cycle. Thermokarst lakes, which not only are influenced by vegetation in terms of controlling greenhouse gas fluxes but also releasing the carbon, have a great importance in the carbon feedback cycle. In this regard, the changes in thermokarst lakes will be focused to understand the potential positive and negative feedbacks to the atmospheric carbon budget. One may ask why is this important to biodiversity and the people that live in the Arctic, as well as elsewhere on the planet?

BIO:  Deniz Vural is a research scientist at the Polar Research Institute, The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK). She is currently completing her Master’s degree in Geological Engineering from Istanbul Technical University and in the meantime, had additional courses in Geosciences from the University of Potsdam, Germany. She was a team leader in writing the H2020 Green Deal Project EARTH-CPR, which has a section with its focus on lifelong learning and assessment of knowledge, skills and citizen science, in particular young people, on Climate Change and environmental sustainability. Her research supports advancements in permafrost research and ecosystem assessments. These data will target sustainable solutions to global warming, socio-cultural equities, and the resilience and adaptation of people and nature in Polar regions.


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Wednesday, July 14, 2021
9:00 am to 10:00 am





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Mistia Zuckerman