The French-Russian CARWETSIB international research group is one of several ‘International Research Networks (GDRI)’ CNRS has developed in order to establish flexible partnerships among French and foreign research teams around a specific scientific topic.
CARWETSIB explores challenges of global climate change in three complementary regions of Siberia: the forested watersheds of Central Siberia, the thermokarst lakes of North-Western Siberia, and the large surface of pristine peatlands (‘mire’) of Western Siberia. Due to the presence of permafrost and important stocks of organic carbon in forest soils, tundra and swamp zones, Siberia seems to be most affected by global climate changes.
It represents 60% of the permafrost covered surface and is of major interest for the whole Earth system. A recent estimate indicates that the below-ground stock of carbon in permafrost-dominated regions is around 1650 gigatonnes of carbon (Gt C), an amount that greatly exceeds the carbon content of the atmosphere (around 750 Gt C). In the context of climate warming and permafrost thaw, these regions may be considered as a real ‘time bomb’ capable doubling pCO2 of the atmosphere in a short period of time.
The project studies the major physico-chemical and biological mechanisms operating in these and quantifies the flux of water at the scale of small and large watersheds. It will thus provide new and important data for quantitative prediction of the direction and magnitude of changes of fluxes of matter under the on-going climate warming, and develop new hydrogeochemical models of carbon transport capable of operating in permafrost- bearing environments. On the French side, eight research institutions are participating, among them the laboratory ‘Géosciences Environnement’ from the University Paul Sabatier of Toulouse and the Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées.
On the Russian side, six partners are participating, among them Tomsk State University and the V.N. Sukachev Institute of Forest SBRAS in Krasnoyarsk, as well as the French Siberian Centre for Education and Research.
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