CAPEC Project

The CAPEC (Circum Arctic Permafrost Environment Change Monitoring) Project, supported by Korea Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, has been continued since 2011. Through this project, we plan to establish Arctic monitoring nodes to study environmental changes and develop the state-of-the-art observation techniques for terrestrial permafrost region. This monitoring project includes atmosphere-pedosphere-biosphere monitoring system with Ubiquitous Sensor Network (USN) and GPS monitoring.

The research aims of this project are (1) to understand the correlation between carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes and soil properties; (2) to estimate the contribution of microbial respiration, and plant photosynthesis and respiration to the CO2 production from soil; (3) to understand the geophysical and mechanical behavior of frozen ground correlated with environmental change. On the basis of the CAPEC project, we had two Arctic explorations this spring and summer: Council, Alaska; and Cambridge Bay, Canada.

CAPEC project in Council, Alaska

We have operated the eddy-covariance flux system and 4-component radiometer at the Council site, during the summer period to monitor NEE (Net Ecosystem Exchange of CO2) over Alaskan permafrost region. Spatial variation of NEE was also measured using a manual chamber system with 9×9 grids on a monthly basis from July to September. In addition, thaw depths at multiple points were manually measured using a probe once in July, August, and September. Likewise, plant activity was monitored using a camera and NDVI sensors throughout the year. Researchers from Seoul National University joined the field campaign to measure physical properties and photosynthetic characteristics of permafrost vegetation.

Fig. 1 Eddy system Council 2015

Figure 1. Eddy-covariance system for green-house-gas (CO2, H2O) flux measurement at Council, Alaska

Fig. 2 Photosynthesis study Council 2015

Figure 2. In-situ measurement of photosynthetic activity of permafrost vegetation at Council, Alaska in July, 2015

CAPEC project in Cambridge Bay, Canada

The Arctic ecosystem is undergoing dramatic changes due to climate change. Since 2012, through long-term monitoring of the Canadian Arctic tundra, changes in ecosystem structure and function have been examined. The study aims to observe the effects of climate warming and increased precipitation on the structure and functioning of plant and soil microbes.
The study site is Cambridge Bay (69°07′48″N and 105°03′36″W) which is located on the southeast coast of Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada. Average temperature is 4.2°C and -23.8°C in summer and winter, respectively. Precipitation is low with an average precipitation of 140 mm annually. This area is classified as prostrate dwarf-shrub, herb tundra (CAVM Team, 2003) with vegetation dominated by small prostrate shrubs (Dryas spp.) and sedges (Carex spp.). The climate manipulation experiment was conducted with summer warming and increased precipitation both separately and combined. Hexagonal 2 m-diameter open-top chambers (OTCs) were established to increase air temperature of 1-2°C and 2 L of water was added to sites every week to manipulate the increased precipitation of additional 4 mm per year. The manipulation experiment was conducted during summer season from late June to early October each year. Changes in plant and soil microbial community structure as well as soil ecosystem functioning such as microbial biomass, soil respiration and extracellular enzyme activity were monitored on a biennial basis.

Fig. 3 NDVI sensor installation

Figure 3. NDVI sensor installation in July 2015

Fig. 4 Soil and soil derived gas sampling

Figure 4. Soil and soil-derived gas sampling in August 2015

CAPEC project in Ny-Ålesund

The overall main research objective of KOPRI aerosol research team is to address the question: will future changes of the Arctic climate induce positive or negative feedbacks with respect to DMS-aerosol-cloud interactions? To improve knowledge gaps regarding these issues, KOPRI aerosol research team has focused on the three research themes in collaboration with Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), Stockholm University, Norwegian Polar Research Institute (NPI) and Norwegian Institute for Air research (NILU):
● Long-term observation of DMS and aerosol physics in the atmosphere at an Zeppelin observatory
● Evaluating the linkage between oceanic biological activities and the formation of Arctic aerosol
● Examining climate feedback roles of DMS-aerosol in Arctic environment under global warming event
The Zeppelin observatory is located in the Arctic on Zeppelin Mountain on the island archipelago of Svalbard (79oN, 12oE). The observatory is located in an undisturbed Arctic environment, away from major pollution sources. The unique location of the observatory makes it an ideal platform for the monitoring of global atmospheric change. Korea aerosol research team has been carrying out the aerosol research program since 2007. Currently, we are observing numerous aerosol parameters (e.g., CCN, DMS, number of nano-size particles, and size distribution of aerosol particles) at an observation site. To assure quality and continuity of measurements, we make frequent visits to the observation site and provide necessary support for routine maintenance and calibration.

Fig. 5a CCNCFig. 5b KOPRI DMS analytical systemFig. 5c KOPRI High volume sampler

Figure 5. (a) CCN counter, (b) DMS analyzer installed in Zeppelin obsrevatory, (c) high volume sampler installed on the roof of Gruvebadet laboratory

After glacier retreat in Svalbard (PI: Yoo Kyung Lee)

A research project based on the Arctic Dasan Station in Svalbard has been initiated in 2014 by Korea Polar Research Institute. KOPRI research groups and other teams from several universities and institutes studied the glacier foreland ecosystem of Midtre Lovénbreen. The plant community in the glacier foreland was surveyed by the French team 10 years ago. We repeated vegetation survey in the same sampling sites, studied by the French team, with the French and Norwegian groups in the same manner. In addition, soil samples were collected to study soil organic carbon, microbial community, plants metabolites, and fatty acids composition in the glacier foreland in 2014. We preliminarily produced a vegetation map by calculating the probability of vegetation distribution in the entire glacier foreland from using some available environmental parameters (topography, age of surface, etc.). This showed that most of the glacier foreland was lack of plants or very low coverage of plants. We are currently working on producing maps through many combinations of classification and estimation methods. In addition, we are planning to produce a soil organic carbon stock map in the foreland and to find the microbial distribution pattern with a relationship with soil environmental features.

Fig. 6 vegetation map

Figure 6. A vegetation map in Midtre Lovénbreen glacier foreland.

Fig. 7 SOC concentration

Figure 7. Soil organic carbon concentration in the surface soil (0-5 cm depth).

Public Relations

Korea Polar Research Institute has operated the web page, <Arctic Knowledge Center> (, to provide all sorts of arctic related information in Korean. The webpage introduces organizations and groups involved in arctic activities as well as scientific activities.
KOPRI published a book <Story of Tundra> written by Yoo Kyung Lee and Ji Young Jung. This book explains where the Arctic tundra is, what kind of organisms live there, how tundra is changing with climate change, and how Korean scientists are researching Tundra. Specifically with a total of 80 pictures comprising of a diverse set of photographs taken in the Arctic, images that explain scientific principles in a clear and accessible way, this book makes Arctic Tundra understandable to all kinds of readers.

Report prepared by Yoo Kyung Lee (