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Hydrogen Cycling on the Mire

 Hi everyone!  This is Tori reporting on my project so far. My project is focused on quantifying the cycling of molecular hydrogen up here in the subarctic.  I am so excited to finally be collecting data.  As a UNH student I had to submit a proposal back in January to apply for this program, so I was thrilled to finally start work at the site a few weeks ago after months of anticipation and preparation.  The goal of my project is to better understand where in the soil hydrogen is produced and the effects of different variables, particularly precipitation, on the consumption or release of soil hydrogen.  Soil hydrogen is important because soils store about 75% of terrestrial hydrogen, but the mechanisms of this storage are poorly understood. Additionally, hydrogen is a secondary greenhouse gas because its atmospheric behavior affects the turnover rates of primary greenhouse gases.

Stordalen Mire. Photo by Tori Ward

My project is focused on the effect of precipitation because the thawing of permafrost is likely to result in wetter soils.  Based on current knowledge of the reactions responsible for the release of hydrogen, it is anticipated that wetter conditions will release more hydrogen, but few studies have actually focused on soil moisture. In order to better understand the mechanisms behind soil consumption and release of hydrogen, I have been collecting data from 4 subhabitats at Stordalen Mire, which is located about 11 km from the Abisko Scientific Research Station.

These 4 subhabitats are palsa permafrost, a mesic sphagnum site, and 2 fully thawed sites characterized by eriophorum and carex.  At each site, I collect porewater, soil dissolved gas, and autochamber samples to be run for both hydrogen and methane.  The Reduced Gas Detector takes 4 minutes to run each sample for hydrogen, which has meant some long days in the lab, but they have resulted in a lot of data! J My project was also helped by the cooperative weather. Last weekend, the area received what may have been record precipitation in 48 hours.  Hopefully, I can get another good storm before we head back to the states!

-Tori

Collecting dissolved gas from a Soil Gas Sampling Array. Photo by Ryan Lawrence

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