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The Dutch research community is active in research on the carbon cycle of permafrost and paleo-permafrost research. In paleo-permafrost research the dating and paleo-environment of permafrost phases in Western Europe is the main focus of research. The type locality of the Late Pleniglacial and Late Glacial fluvial to aeolian succession along the Dinkel river in the eastern Netherlands has been reinvestigated. Optical stimulated luminescence dating (circa 50 samples) has revealed the timing of the environmental changes in this time period. The timing of Late Pleniglacial permafrost existence and permafrost degradation has been established. The major phase of permafrost degradation has been dated between circa 20 and 16 ka during the Late Pleniglacial (PhD Thesis Gent University, C. Derese). A research project on modeling of paleo-methane emissions from periglacial environments during the Last Glacial has come to an end, and has resulted in a thaw lake expansion model, published in Nature Climate Change (Van Huissteden et al., 2011). A research on the response of paleofluvial systems to cold conditions is continued in China, which- as a side effect- resulted in the detection of mega-cryoturbations (>4 m amplitude) in gravel terrace deposits (collaboration project VU University Amsterdam and Nanjing University).

Carbon exchange from permafrost soils and ecosystems

Research on the carbon cycle and greenhouse gas emission of present-day permafrost environments is conducted by VU University Amsterdam (Prof A.J. Dolman, Dr. J. van Huissteden) and Wageningen University  (Dr. M. Heijmans). The research projects in Siberia are conducted in collaboration with Russian counterparts (Russian Academy of Sciences - IBPC, Yakutsk and Krasnojarsk University.
At the Kytalyk reserve near Chokurdagh in the Indigirka lowlands (VU and Wageningen University) research focusses on CO2 and CH4 fluxes of tundra ecosystems on continuous permafrost. With three new PhD projects started in 2010 and funded by Dutch science funding organizations NWO and Darwin Center, and participation in the new EU project PAGE21, funding of carbon cycle observations is guaranteed until 2014. This will result in a decade-long time series of  CO2 and CH4 fluxes, and seven years of research on tundra vegetation ecology. In the new research projects, emphasis is laid on spatial variability of fluxes and the effects of permafrost degradation on the tundra ecosystem and fluxes. Closely linked to this research is a modeling project, aiming to improve hydrological aspects of carbon cycle models,  which is part of the EU funded Marie Curie Greencycles Network. Also cooperation is setup with AWI (Dr. Schirrmeister) in the framework of the POLYGON project.
VU University also participates in the Russian Mega-grant programme 'The carbon balance of Central Siberia and the role of the hydrgeochemistry of the big Siberian rivers in the carbon cycle', led by the Siberian Federal University of Krasnojarsk and the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany. The first step in this project is an analysis of the carbon balance of the Yenesei river. A planned river sampling cruise in 2011 had to be cancelled however, due to equipment import problems.
At the “Nymto Park Station” (NPS) in West Siberia in the regional park “Nymto” at 63.7°N, 70.9°E the effect of climate change on the pristine peatland ecosystems and (sub)actual carbon balance of the permafrost boundary zone in Sub-arctic Western Siberia is studied (Yugra State University nd Utrecht University, Prof. W. Bleuten).
The Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, NIOZ (Dr. Jens Greinert), is currently chairing the COST Action PERGAMON (ES0902) "Permafrost and gas hydrate related methane release in the Arctic and impact on climate change: European cooperation for long-term monitoring" in which 23 countries with 49 institutes are currently involved. Next to EU countries, Russia, USA, Canada and New Zealand are regular members during the biannual workgroup and management committee meetings. The Action has 6 working groups ranging from atmospheric and remote sensing sciences, to terrestrial studies around methane release from wetlands, to marine studies related to gas hydrate decomposition and permafrost thaw. NIOZ and VU are participating from the Netherlands.

Ko van Huissteden (ko.van.huissteden@geo.falw.vu.nl)