Understanding the fate and response of soil carbon to climate change in the Arctic

Grantham Scholar Dr Magdalena Matysek researches emissions of carbon dioxide and methane from peat and explores the factors that influence their release.

The project

Climate change is responsible for rising temperatures in high latitude areas, in particular the Arctic circle. This causes permafrost to thaw and water to drain from Arctic peatlands. These changes create favourable conditions for microorganisms to thrive. Microorganisms which then decompose soil organic materials and, in turn, produce higher carbon dioxide emissions.

This project will measure emissions of two greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). It will find the factors that influence them, e.g. temperature of peat soil, water content, acidity and the depth of the permafrost. Greenhouse gas measurements will be taken using a field infra-red gas analyser. Overall the project will deepen our understanding of how carbon is lost from Arctic peats as the climate changes.


Watch: Valuing Nature: Does a price on nature help or hinder its conservation? Magdalena Matysek was part of a group of Scholars who organised this seminar on the pros and cons of putting a price on nature. You can watch it on our YouTube channel.

In 2017 Magdalena presented a poster ‘Effects of a raised water table on greenhouse gas emissions and celery yield from agricultural peat under climate warming conditions’ at European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna.

Also in 2017, Magdalena went to Rome to present at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon. Her presentation was Effects of a raised water table on greenhouse gas emissions and celery yield from agricultural peat under climate warming conditions. If you want to find out more, read Grantham Scholar presents research at major UN FAO conference.

Magdalena introduced the Grantham Scholars to various geoengineering approaches. In particular they talked about the pros and cons of cloud seeding and reforestation. Read: Geoengineering the future by Magdalena Matysek.

Magdalena Matysek’s publications

Optimizing fen peatland water-table depth for romaine lettuce growth to reduce peat wastage under future climate warming. Magdalena Matysek, Jonathan Leake, Steven Banwart, Irene Johnson, Susan Page, Jorg Kaduk, Alan Smalley, Alexander Cumming, Donatella Zona. 2021. https://doi.org/10.1111/sum.12729

Magdalena has published a paper that attempts to find a water table level that would balance peat preservation and crop yield for agricultural fen peat. Impact of fertiliser, water table, and warming on celery yield and CO2 and CH4 emissions from fenland agricultural peat.

Social media

You can find Magdalena Matysek on LinkedIn.