Department of Ecology and Genetics

Biogeochemistry

Biogeochemistry is the study of chemical, physical, geologogical and biological processes and mechanisms that form the environment.

We investigate the cycling of carbon and other elements in inland waters, with a particular emphasis on boreal lakes and their role in the carbon cycle at the landscape scale. These lakes receive considerable amounts of dissolved organic carbon from the watershed, which is partly processed by microorganisms resulting in release of carbon dioxide and methane, and partly buried permanently in the lake sediments. The carbon transport is predicted to change with an altered climate. As a result, the role of lakes as sources of atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane and as carbon sinks will change. Our research includes examination of the capacity of microbes to degrade organic matter, as well as studies at different scales of processes such as sedimentation and evasion to the atmosphere. Many of the studies are coordinated within a strong research environment. One representative example is the Color of Water (CoW) project, in which many from our group have been involved. Here, we studied the interplay of water color (dissolved organic carbon) with climate, and potential effects on drinking water supply.

We also analyze large data sets to assess the role of different processes in the carbon cycle as well as other biogeochemical processes. We use national and other monitoring data bases, but also manage a unique short-term (automatic stations) and long-term data base for Lake Erken, situated by Norr Malma field station (Erken Laboratory) that is affiliated with our department, and one of the sites of GLEON, the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network. Data from Lake Erken - together with other lakes with access to similar data, and regional climate scenarios developed by cooperating climate researchers - are used to construct models to project lake responses (e. g. thermal characteristics, nutrient dynamics, phytoplankton community composition) to future climate change.