Scientists from France study carbon stocks in Siberian lakes

Employees of TSU and the Observatory Midi-Pyrénées of the National Center for Scientific Research of France (Toulouse) are exploring the bottom sediments of Siberian lakes as part of a joint project. One of their objectives is to estimate the carbon stocks in them that are the source of greenhouse gas formation. Preliminary results of sampling at two lakes located in the Tomsk Region showed that the content of organic carbon in them is quite high.

The scientific group conducted field work at the TSU research station Kaybasovo under the supervision of Stephen Audrey, a staff member of the Observatory Midi-Pyrénées. He is one of the world's leading experts in the study of bottom sediments of lakes, and previously studied carbon cycles in lakes in Alaska, Canada, India, Africa, and a number of European countries.

Siberia, in the opinion of the French specialist, is of particular interest. On one hand, it has been little studied, and on the other, it has thermokarst lakes, which are formed as a result of melting of permafrost. In the bottom sediments of such reservoirs, there is a large amount of carbon, which makes them a powerful source of greenhouse gases. During the release process, this element is oxidized, resulting in the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Moreover, it was found that the thermokarst lakes have a large methane content, the greenhouse effect of which is 20-25 times higher than that of CO2.

- That's why the route of the researchers includes a number of water bodies along an ecological profile that extends over a thousand kilometers, - explains Larissa Kolesnichenko, a member of the BioClimLand Centre. - During the recent expedition, the Russian-French scientific group investigated two other equally important objects: lakes on the watershed and in the flood plain of Ob. It is in floodplain lakes that bottom sediments accumulate a large content of organic substances.

Stephen Audrey and his colleague Cyril Habib Plierre conducted a layer-by-layer sampling, which will be analyzed in the laboratory of the Observatory Midi-Pyrénées. The results will help researchers refine the global model of the carbon cycle and related forecasts for climate change on the planet.

Simultaneously with the expedition to Kaybasovo, the TSU summer school “Anthropology of Science and Modern Forms of Life: the Camera Ethnography Approach in Studying Laboratory Practice” was held. Not only anthropologists but also undergraduates of the programme “Study of Siberia and the Arctic” took part in it. Stephen Audrey conducted a master class on a complex method of layer-by-layer sampling.

Next year, as part of a joint project, the scientists from Tomsk and France will study carbon cycles in the thermokarst lakes of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug.