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Methane Turnover in Alpine Glacier Forefields

English title Methane Turnover in Alpine Glacier Forefields
Applicant Schroth Martin H.
Number 137721
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Biogeochemie und Schadstoffdynamik ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Other disciplines of Environmental Sciences
Start/End 01.01.2012 - 31.12.2015
Approved amount 242'427.00
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Keywords (5)

Glacier forefield; Methanogenesis; Methane oxidation; Methane-oxidizing bacteria; Pioneer ecosystem

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary

Projekttitel:

Methane Turnover in Alpine Glacier Forefields

 

Hauptgesuchsteller:

Prof. Dr. Martin H. Schroth, Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics, ETH Zürich, martin.schroth@env.ethz.ch

 

Keywords:

Glacier forefield, methanogenesis, methane oxidation, methane-oxidizing bacteria, pioneer ecosystem

 

Lead (Kurzzusammenfassung, 40 Worte):

As atmospheric CH4 is an important contributor to climate change, understanding CH4 turnover is crucial for global climate modeling and potential mitigation strategies. In this project we will quantitatively assess CH4 turnover in alpine glacier forefields through specifically adapted methods.

 

Hintergrund (100-150 Worte):

Methane (CH4) is among the most abundant greenhouse gases in the atmosphere with a significantly higher global-warming potential than CO2. The CH4 cycle is largely microbially mediated, with anaerobic methanogenic archaea responsible for CH4 production, and aerobic or anaerobic CH4 oxidizing bacteria (MOB) responsible for consumption. Little is known about CH4 turnover and MOB abundance and diversity in pioneer ecosystems such as glacier forefields. Here, a transition occurs from partially anaerobic, methanogenic subglacial sediments to largely aerobic, well-developed CH4 consuming soils in alpine meadows or forests. An initial field survey confirmed substantial CH4 production and consumption in several Swiss glacier forefields, but was limited in its scope by currently available methods to assess CH4 turnover.

 

Ziel (50-70 Worte):

The project’s overall goal is to quantitatively assess CH4 turnover in alpine glacier forefields through specifically adapted methods. The project will fill a gap in knowledge regarding CH4 turnover during the transformation of soils from the subglacial to the proglacial environment. This is especially valuable for evaluating potential feedback of deglaciation to climate change, and will lead to an improved understanding of colonization patterns of MOB.

 

Bedeutung (50-100 Worte):

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. To date, information on CH4 turnover in glacier forefields is extremely scarce. Thus, it will be important to rigorously assess the occurrence and magnitude of CH4 turnover in this environment. Effects of soil age as well as seasonal effects on CH4 turnover during the transition from an anaerobic, subglacial environment to postglacial, aerobic alpine meadows or forests are hitherto unexplored. However, changes in CH4 turnover during this transition may represent an important feedback to the climate system, in particular in light of glaciers predicted to continue their rapid retreat.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
High Temporal and Spatial Variability of Atmospheric-Methane Oxidation in Alpine Glacier Forefield Soils
Chiri Eleonora, Nauer Philipp A., Rainer Edda-Marie, Zeyer Josef, Schroth Martin H. (2017), High Temporal and Spatial Variability of Atmospheric-Methane Oxidation in Alpine Glacier Forefield Soils, in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 83(18), 1.
Soil–methane sink increases with soil age in forefields of Alpine glaciers
Chiri Eleonora, Nauer Philipp A., Henneberger Ruth, Zeyer Josef, Schroth Martin H. (2015), Soil–methane sink increases with soil age in forefields of Alpine glaciers, in Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 84, 83-95.
Technical Note: Disturbance of soil structure can lead to release of methane entrapped in glacier forefield soils
Nauer P.A., Chiri E., Zeyer J., Schroth M.H. (2014), Technical Note: Disturbance of soil structure can lead to release of methane entrapped in glacier forefield soils, in Biogeosciences, 11(3), 613-620.
Poly-Use Multi-Level Sampling System for Soil-Gas Transport Analysis in the Vadose Zone
Nauer Philipp A., Chiri Eleonora, Schroth Martin H. (2013), Poly-Use Multi-Level Sampling System for Soil-Gas Transport Analysis in the Vadose Zone, in Environmental Science & Technology, 47(19), 11122-11130.
Activity and diversity of methane-oxidizing bacteria in glacier forefields on silicious and calcareous bedrock
Nauer Philipp, Dam Bombo, Liesack Werner, Zeyer Josef, Schroth Martin H. (2012), Activity and diversity of methane-oxidizing bacteria in glacier forefields on silicious and calcareous bedrock, in Biogeosciences, 9(6), 2259-2274.
Soil-methane sink increases with soil age in forefields of Alpine glaciers
Chiri Eleonora, Nauer Philipp A., Henneberger Ruth, Zeyer Josef, Schroth Martin H., Soil-methane sink increases with soil age in forefields of Alpine glaciers, in Soil Biology & Biochemistry, SBB9549R2.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
PD Dr. Werner Liesack, Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Marburg Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Prof. D. Or, Soil and Terrestrial Environmental Physics, ETH Zürich Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
H. Scherrer, Dept. of Physics, ETH Zürich Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. N. Buchmann, Grassland Sciences Group, ETH Zürich Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting Poster Spatial and temporal variability in atmospheric-methane-oxidizing bacterial community structure and activity in an Alpine glacier forefield 14.12.2015 San Francisco, United States of America Zeyer Josef; Schroth Martin H.; Chiri Eleonora;
European Geosciences Union Assembly Talk given at a conference Dynamics of atmospheric-methane oxidation in glacier-forefield soils 12.04.2015 Vienna, Austria Zeyer Josef; Schroth Martin H.; Chiri Eleonora;
Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union Poster Seasonal Variability in Atmospheric-Methane Oxidation in a Swiss Glacier Forefield 18.12.2014 San Francisco, California, United States of America Schroth Martin H.; Zeyer Josef; Chiri Eleonora;
7th Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics (IBP) Ph.D. Congress Poster Seasonal variability in methane oxidation in a Swiss glacier forefield 25.04.2014 Zürich, Switzerland, Switzerland Chiri Eleonora; Zeyer Josef; Schroth Martin H.;
6th Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics (IBP) Ph.D. Congress Poster Diversity of methane-­oxidizing bacteria along glacier forefield chronosequences 05.04.2013 EAWAG, Dübendorf, Switzerland Schroth Martin H.; Chiri Eleonora; Zeyer Josef;
Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union Poster Poly-Use Multi-Level Sampling Rod (PULSAR) to Measure Soil-Gas Exchange in Glacier Forefield Soils 03.12.2012 San Francisco, USA, United States of America Zeyer Josef; Schroth Martin H.;
ESF Exploratory Workshop on Geomicrobiology in Glacial Systems Individual talk Methane Turnover in Terrestrial Ecosystems 07.08.2012 Sogndal, Norway Schroth Martin H.;
5th Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics (IBP) Ph.D. Congress Poster Field-scale labeling of active methanotrophs in a landfill-cover soil 13.04.2012 Zürich, Switzerland, Switzerland Chiri Eleonora; Schroth Martin H.;


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
119716 New Field Method for the In-Situ Assessment of Microbial Methane Oxidation in Soils 01.04.2008 Project funding (Div. I-III)
131170 MECOMECON: MEthanotrophic diversity and gene expression as a COntrolling factor of global MEthane CONsumption (09-EuroEEFG-FP-003) 01.05.2010 Project funding (special)
153571 Methane entrapped in calcareous proglacial soils: abundance, origin, and fate 01.01.2015 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

1.SummaryAs atmospheric CH4 is an important contributor to climate change, understanding CH4 turnover is crucial for global climate modeling and potential mitigation strategies. The CH4 cycle is largely microbially mediated, with anaerobic methanogenic Archaea responsible for CH4 production, and aerobic or anaerobic CH4 oxidizing bacteria (MOB) responsible for consumption. Little is known about CH4 turnover and MOB abundance and diversity in pioneer ecosystems such as glacier forefields. Here, a transition occurs from partially anaerobic, methanogenic subglacial sediments to largely aerobic, well-developed CH4-consuming soils in Alpine meadows or forests. An initial field survey confirmed substantial CH4 production and consumption in several Swiss glacier forefields, but was limited in its scope by currently available methods to assess CH4 turnover.Therefore, the project’s overall goal is to quantitatively assess CH4 turnover in Alpine glacier forefields through specifically adapted methods. The project will fill a gap in knowledge regarding CH4 turnover during the transformation of soils from the subglacial to the proglacial environment. This is especially valuable for evaluating potential feedback of deglaciation to climate change, and will lead to an improved understanding of colonization patterns of MOB.The detailed objectives of this project are:i.To develop new and adapt existing methodologies for the in-situ quantification of CH4 turnover in Alpine glacier forefield soils.ii.To investigate the effect of soil age on CH4 turnover patterns, MOB abundance and MOB diversity along the chronosequence of a siliceous and a calcareous glacier forefield.iii.To assess seasonal dynamics of CH4 turnover with high temporal resolution at selected sampling points in siliceous and calcareous glacier forefields.In the first project phase, we will address the methodological limitations encountered in the initial field survey regarding the soil-CH4 profile method and soil-water-content measurements. We will develop a poly-use, multi-level sampling rod (PULSAR) to repetitively extract soil air and measure water content at the same locations. Furthermore, a specific tracer test for the PULSAR will be designed to measure soil-CH4 diffusion coefficients in situ. The gas push-pull test (GPPT) for the assessment of CH4 turnover independent of soil physical properties will be adapted for use in glacier forefields, i.e. for sites with low CH4 turnover. In the second project phase, CH4 turnover, MOB abundance and diversity in three different soil-development stages will be assessed using the PULSAR and GPPT, quantitative PCR and terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism. Field sites include a siliceous and calcareous glacier forefield. The third project phase will investigate seasonal dynamics of CH4 turnover at selected field locations within the siliceous and calcareous glacier forefields and link CH4 turnover to key environmental parameters including soil temperature, soil-water content and CH4 concentration.
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