Conclusion and Perspectives

The growing interest in perennially frozen ground of cold mountain ranges is justified and the rapidly developing progress in this young research field must be considered timely and most welcome. Continued if not accelerating atmospheric temperature rise indeed has the potential to cause serious and long-lasting disequilibria on the slopes as well as inside many mountain peaks on earth. Concerning impacts of climate change on mountain permafrost, system reactions deserve special attention the...

Ancient Protozoa from Permafrost 821 Study Area

Studies were carried out in the East Arctic sector, from the Lena delta to the lower reaches of the Kolyma in the continuous permafrost zone (Fig. 8.1). The territory is characterized by cold Arctic climate, with a mean annual air temperature of -13.5 C in the west (Tiksi settlement) and -13.4 C in the east (Chersky settlement). The permafrost samples of various age and origin, as well as soils buried in those sediments and burrows of fossil rodents, were selected for protozoological analysis....

Thermokarst Processes 1321 Thermokarst Subsidence

Thermokarst subsidence denotes a lowering of the ground surface following ablation of excess ice in permafrost. Ablation typically occurs by melting caused by heat conduction as the active layer deepens or surface water ponds. In permeable soils, however, it also results from heat convection by percolating rain or ground-water. The subsequent loss of excess water by drainage or evaporation allows the soil to consolidate and ground surface to subside. Subsidence is clearest where it is...

Physical Properties of Antarctic Soils and Permafrost

The physical properties of Antarctic soils and permafrost are known from numerous studies since the 1960s, but principally from those of Ugolini (1964), Claridge (1965), Campbell and Claridge (1975, 1987, 2006), Claridge and Campbell (1977), Bockheim (1979), Blume et al. (1997) and Campbell et al. (1998). The two main pedological processes that operate in Antarctic soils are oxidation and salinization. Coarse particle reduction takes place mainly at the soil surface, with surface clast size...

Design Approaches for Permafrost Regions

The impact of climate change on the integrity of structures built on permafrost has been widely discussed (US Arctic Research Commission 2003 ACIA 2005). The problem is twofold. Firstly, it is a prediction of behavior of existing buildings, and secondly, it concerns approaches to design for future conditions. Both are very difficult for design engineers to solve, because of uncertainties involved in existing climatic models and the wide range of results predicted by different climate change...

Implications for Global Change

Thus, warming in high latitudes may lead to an increased release of currently sequestered carbon through (i) Enhancement of temperature-controlled DOC production processes (ii) Raised precipitation, thereby increasing DOC mobilization from its large pool in the upper organic layer (iii) Introduction of a new source of DOC from older and deeper layers, caused by permafrost degradation. 20 40 60 80 DOC concentration, mg C l-1 Fig. 16.4 DOC concentrations in a soil profile (forest floor leachate...

Putative Roles of Cold Inducible Proteins in Low Temperature Growth

The temperature regulates the growth rate, the level of biosynthesis, metabolism, and survival (Price and Sowers 2004). Comparison of the proteomic profiles of different psychroactive bacteria grown at low temperatures involves the up-regulation of the similar proteins. Protein profiles of strains P cryohalolentis K5 and E. sibiricum 255-15 following cold adaptation showed overexpression of translation elongation factor Ts involved in gene expression, and F1 F0-type ATP-synthase B subunit...

Basin Thermokarst

Thermokarst basins are closed depressions formed by degradation of ice-rich permafrost. They are generally 0.5-20 m deep and 0.01-5 km in diameter, and many contain standing water (thermokarst ponds and lakes). The basins are initiated by factors such as water ponding or vegetation degradation. Thermokarst ponds or lakes sometimes develop at sites where thaw occurs beneath standing water, notably at ice-wedge intersections or in low-centred polygons, as well as under small streams (Dredge and...

Petroleum Releases to Unfrozen Active Layers

In permafrost-affected regions the thickness of the active layer will be minimal centimeters to a few meters, depending upon local conditions. The active layer begins to thaw during the spring snowmelt and continues to thicken until reaching maximum thickness in late August or September (Hinzman et al. 2005). As the active layer thaws a layer of water-saturated soil develops, which may be as thick as the entire thawed thickness. Thus, the downward flow of petroleum will be impeded due to low...

References

Abyzov SS, Mitskevich IN, Poglazova MN (1998) Microflora of the deep glacier horizons of Central Antarctica. Microbiology 67 451-458 Andreeva B (1998) Soil aerophyl green algae (Chlorophyta Tetrasporales, Chlorococcales, Chlorosarcinales). Nauka, Sankt-P etersburg Boyd SR (2001) Ammonium as a biomarker in Precambrian metasediments. Precambrian Res 108 159-173 Brown R, Bold H (1964) Comparative studies of the algal genera Tetracystis and Chlorococcum. University of Texas Publications, Dallas...

Permafrost

The most inhabited and ancient part of the cryosphere, permafrost, is defined as permanently frozen ground and underlies about a quarter of the Earth's land surface. This considerable frozen mass, up to several hundreds of meters deep, where microorganisms are adsorbed on organic or mineral particles, harbors a high level (up to dozen millions of cells per gram) of various morphological and ecological viable microbial groups that have survived under permafrost conditions since the time of its...

Groundwater Treatment

Various methods have been used, tested or proposed for the remediation of petroleum-contaminated groundwater in cold regions. These methods can be broadly divided into ex situ and in situ remediation approaches (Tables 19.3 and 19.4). The ex situ remediation methods that have been applied in cold regions are essentially variations of pump and treat, where the treatment component may include physical processes (e.g., oil-water separation, air-stripping), chemical processes (e.g., sorption to...

Active Method Accommodate Changes Associated with Permafrost Thawing Under Structure

At first glance, this method looks attractive in cases of degrading permafrost, but in fact it has very few successful applications. Permafrost thawing is accompanied by thaw settlement of soil and foundations if frozen soil is thaw-unstable. Thaw susceptibility of soil is determined by thaw strain the ratio of thaw settlement to thickness of the soil layer prior to thawing. It is important to define the borderline value of thaw strain below which soil can be considered as thaw-stable. One of...

Verification of Results

Since we cannot rule out that samples get contaminated on the basis of experimental setup, it is important to assess the authenticity using empirical tests. An independent line of evidence for authenticity of ancient DNA results is the application of relative rate analyses. One such approach the evolutionary rate test is an empirical test that exploits the temporal difference between related modern sequences and the very old DNA claims. The method infers the timing of the divergence between the...

Migration of Petroleum into Permafrost

Petroleum hydrocarbons have been measured at depths of meters in permafrost (Biggar et al. 1998 McCarthy et al. 2004) even though petroleum migration into permafrost should typically be minimal, due to high pore-ice saturations in the upper few meters of these frozen soils. Presence of petroleum hydrocarbons in both these cases was attributed to free-phase petroleum movement through interconnected air voids in the frozen soil. These air voids may result from unsaturated compacted soil, fissures...

Diversity of Viable Bacteria and Archaea

The catalog of viable Bacteria recovered from permafrost and associated environments, currently includes at least 70 genera (Table 5.2). Cultured isolates recovered from permafrost are capable of a wide range of metabolic processes including aerobic and anaerobic heterotrophy, chemolithoautotrophy, sulfate-reduction, methanotrophy, methanogenesis (Gilichinsky et al. 1995 Steven et al. 2006) and even phototrophy (Chap. 6). Both Gram-positive and Gram-negative cells are represented, and...

Retrogressive Thaw Slumping

Retrogressive thaw slumping is a slope failure characterized by thaw of exposed ground ice and slumping of thawed soil. Slumping usually starts where ice-rich permafrost is exposed by erosion, mass movement, forest fires, construction or mining (Burn and Lewkowicz 1990). Where the exposure reveals massive ice, large ice wedges or dense concentrations of segregated ice, slumping may quickly enlarge it to produce a steep or vertical headwall (1 m to > 15 m high) that overlooks a low-gradient...

Present Day Situation

Permanent and seasonal polar caps occupy vast territories, and are the obvious evidence of the Martian cryosphere (Hvidberg 2005). Seasonal caps represent the up to 2 m thick CO2 condensate, which drops out until approximately 60 latitude during the winter polar night in the corresponding hemisphere, and sublimates in spring and summer. In summertime at the poles, permanent caps remain consisting of water but because of the ellipticity of the Martian orbit, the southern summer is shorter, and...

Ex Situ Treatment of Groundwater

Most methods for ex situ treatment of hydrocarbon-contaminated groundwater at cold-climate sites are conventional methods of pump and treat that are commonly used by engineering firms at warmer sub-Arctic sites. For general information about these conventional pump and treat methods, the reader is referred to overviews provided by Nyer (1992), Eastern Research Group, Inc. (1996), and Cohen et al. (1997). Documentation of applications of pump and treat in cold regions has typically been in the...

Isolation and Identification

For isolation of photoautotrophic microorganisms, prolonged enrichments (8-18 weeks) of thawed but otherwise undisturbed permafrost samples under continuous illumination (1,000 lx) were applied. The enrichment cultures in BG11 (Rippka 1988), Bristol (Gollerbakh and Shtina 1969), BBM (Brown and Bold 1964) media were incubated at 4 and 20 C. Enrichments were re-examined weekly to document biodiversity (Table 6.1). Isolates were initially examined by measuring of the fluorescence excitation...

Physical Treatment Methods

Dig and haul is not a treatment method per se, but rather the practice of excavating contaminated soil and hauling it to an off-site location for incorporation with other contaminated soil or treatment. The practice can be performed year-round (excavator with frost bucket in winter), is routinely used in the Arctic and Antarctica where roads and infrastructure exist, and is expensive. Permitting may limit the practice in sensitive environments (e.g., tundra, tundra lakes or marshes, and Arctic...

Anammox in the Environment

The linkage of anammox activity with the removal of fixed inorganic nitrogen in natural systems was first confirmed in the Black Sea suboxic water column (Kuypers et al. 2003). Since then, anammox has been shown to be a significant contributor to nitrogen losses in a variety of environments, responsible for 19-35 of the nitrogen loss in an anoxic coastal bay (Dalsgaard et al. 2003) and the majority of N removal in one of the most productive regions of the world's oceans, the Benguela upwelling...

Anammox Physiology and Metabolism

All currently known bacteria capable of anaerobic ammonium oxidization belong to a deep-branching lineage of the order Planctomycetales with high genus level diversity (Freitag and Prosser 2003 Schmid et al. 2003). The evolutionary distance among the anammox genera is large (< 85 16S rRNA gene nucleotide identity), though they share the same basic anammox metabolism and cell structure. There are currently four Candidatus genera whose grouping is largely based on 16S rRNA sequences the...

Model Organism Psychrobacter

Among the microorganisms that have been recovered and isolated from Siberian permafrost samples, Psychrobacter species have remarkable capabilities at subzero temperatures which identify them as potential model organisms for the study of low-temperature adaptations relevant to inhabiting permafrost (Vishnivetskaya et al. 2000 Bakermans et al. 2003). These Psychrobacter species grow quickly at low temperatures, actively reproduce at -10 C, easily survive freeze-thaw cycles, and are tolerant to...

Control of Molecular Motion

Low temperatures decrease the energy of motion of molecules, leading to increased stability and rigidity. For example, as temperature decreases proteins become less flexible, membrane lipids become less fluid, and secondary structures of DNA and RNA become more stable. As a general mechanism, cold-adapted microorganisms increase the disorder within macromolecules to maintain fluidity or flexibility, and hence function at low temperatures (Feller 2007). In P. arcticus 273-4, a variety of...

Taxonomical Research

We examined about 200 samples of Pleisocene and Holocene deposits, which were collected from 29 boreholes at a depth of 0.5-47 m, as well as from buried soils and the material of cryopedolith-located fossil rodent burrows. In the ice-complex sediments, viable protozoa were found in 25 of 125 samples (20 of total samples examined). Occurrence of viable protozoa was considerably higher in the buried soils (80 14 samples) and fossil burrows (100 12 samples) (Table 8.1). The protozoological...

Introduction

The sequencing and analysis of whole genomes (genomics) is a powerful tool that is being applied to many microorganisms in order to identify the distinguishing molecular features and gene content of those microorganisms. Genomic analyses allow the detection of trends that may only be apparent at the genome level rather than at the level of individual genes, due to differences resulting from genetic drift. For example, biases in amino acid abundance of the genomes of hyperthermophiles have been...

Release and Chemical Composition of Riverine DOC 1631 Seasonality of Riverine DOC Export

Based on seasonal patterns of discharge and the chemical characteristics of DOC in subarctic rivers, there is a common division of annual hydrographs into spring flood, summer through autumn, and winter flow periods (Fig. 16.6). Although the start and duration of these periods may vary greatly among basins and annually, such separation is motivated by distinct changes of sources and flowpaths of water and DOC in riverine systems. Fig. 16.6 Dynamics of S18O in water, concentration of DIC, DOC...

Building Failures in Permafrost Regions

Deformations of buildings in permafrost regions are inexcusably numerous, especially in Russia. The percentage of dangerous buildings in large villages and cities in 1992 ranged from 22 in the town of Tiksi to 80 in the city of Vorkuta, including 55 in Magadan, 60 in Chita, 35 in Dudinka, 10 in Norilsk, 50 in Pevek, 50 in Amderma, and 35 in Dikson (Kronik 2001 ACIA 2005). Hundreds of buildings were demolished or went through serious reconstruction (Ilichev et al. 2003). There have been many...

Indirect Evidence for Subzero Microbial Activity

Although reported in occasional publications starting in the 1960s (see below), subzero activity remains a matter of serious doubt, and is not unconditionally accepted as a significant factor in ecosystem dynamics of boreal and polar regions. The majority of texts assume that subzero temperatures reduce the intensity of biological processes to a negligible level. The definition of psychrophiles is based on their upper temperature limit of 20 C (Morita 1975 Helmke and Weyland 2004), while the...

Life in Dark and Cold Ecosystems

While the mechanisms which protect bacteria against the adverse conditions that include oxidation, cooling, high osmolarity dehydration and starvation are well studied, our knowledge about adaptive and survival mechanisms of photoautotrophic microorganisms in cold and dark ecosystems such as permafrost remains limited. Obviously the upper soil and permafrost layers prevent photosynthetic activity of any chlorophyll-containing organisms. However, green algae and cyanobacteria do survive in the...

Bioaugmentation and Natural Attenuation

An interesting paradigm exists with bioaugmentation and natural attenuation (or intrinsic bioremediation) as soil treatment methods for cold regions. Bioaugmentation, while controversial and expensive, is being used because proponents report achieving cleanup in short order. On the other hand, there is a strong desire to use less expensive natural attenuation, despite knowing little about its viability in cold regions. It appears that irrespective of long-term treatment and liability,...

Methane Cycle in Permafrost Soils

The carbon pool estimates for permafrost soils vary between 4 and 110 kg C m-2 (Schell and Ziemann 1983 Tarnocai and Smith 1992 Michaelson et al. 1996). These large variations can be attributed to different soil types (from mineral to peaty soils) and varying depths of measurement (from the upper few cm to 1 m depth). Permafrost soils can function as both a source and a sink for carbon dioxide and methane (Fig. 15.2). Under anaerobic conditions, caused by flooding of the permafrost soils and...

Slow Molecular Diffusion in Frozen Soil as Possible Restriction Factor

Pure ice does not allow gas diffusion that is why air entrapped in the Greenland and Antarctic ice has been used for chronological reconstruction of the Earth atmosphere (Brook et al. 1996). There are ice lenses in polar soils and subsoils which serve as barriers to gas diffusion. However, the bulk of permafrost and seasonally frozen soils represented by mosaic of frozen water, solid organo-mineral particles and fine network of gas-filled pores and channels should be conductive for gases and...

Advantages and Disadvantages of Various Methods for Detecting Microbial Activity

The list of available techniques is shown in Table 9.1. The rate of incorporation of labeled DNA and protein precursors (thymidine and leucine, respectively) is the most popular method for testing homogeneous frozen objects, such as sea and glacier ice, DNA (3H-thymidine) and proteins (14C-Leucine) Clear physiological and biochemical interpretation of data Can be combined with subsequent analysis of labeled constituents Disturbance of natural community by substrate addition and thaw-refreezing...

Passive Method Maintain Frozen State of Soil

This method is the main one used in the permafrost regions, but it was not fully appreciated or widely used until the 1950s after a long period of unsuccessful attempts to accommodate changes associated with permafrost thawing under structures. Numerous buildings on permafrost experienced substantial deformations because of thawing of permafrost and thaw subsidence of foundation bases. This has happened throughout the entire Russian permafrost region when methods based on accommodation of...