Scientists study the history of swamps to predict climate change

An international team of scientists from the UK, Germany, Romania, and Russia is studying the swamps of the Tomsk Region to predict climate change processes. With the help of peat analysis, they plan to reconstruct paleoecological conditions.

The scientists are working in the international INTERACT network, which includes the TSU’s research station Kaybasovo. The project involved Angelica Feurdean (Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Center, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Simon Hutchinson (University of Manchester, Great Britain); graduate student Andrey Diakonu (Romania); and Irina Volkova, associate professor of the Biological Institute of Tomsk State University.

Scientists have already taken samples of peat in the Iksinsky swamp (spurs of the Great Vasyugan swamp) and in the swamp near the Kaybasovo station. With the help of the analysis of samples, scientists will be able to reconstruct the ecological conditions that were characteristic of this territory for 10,000 years, from the time when the swamps were just beginning to form.

- Swamps are the chronicles of nature, which layer by layer accumulate information in the form of remnants of dead organisms, mainly plants, and a certain chemical composition. After studying peat deposits, it will be possible to restore the dynamics of environmental conditions at a particular point over a certain period of time, - says Irina Volkova.

With the help of spore-pollen, botanical, and chemical analysis of peat samples, scientists will be able to determine the climatic conditions and describe paleosocities of plants that prevailed at different stages in the development of the Kaybasovo and Vasyugan swamps, and later radiocarbon analysis will help to tie the obtained data to a certain point in time. Scientists will also determine the level of humidification of the territory that existed thousands of years ago. To do this, they will restore the composition of the amoebic complex in the selected samples.

Further, it is planned to compare the results of the analyses obtained at TSU and in Manchester in order to compile as completely as possible a complete reconstruction of the past natural environment of Western Siberia. According to scientists, this will help to understand how the climate is changing today and what consequences this can bring to ecosystems.

- We are conducting this study to better predict where we are heading. We need to know what can happen to the climate and ecosystems in order to be ready for this, - says Irina Volkova.