The basal environments of ice sheets produce and store large reserves of methane (CH4), which have the potential to raise atmospheric CH4 concentration and thus further climate warming, if released during periods of deglaciation. The Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) is retreating rapidly, losing mass at over 400 km3 per year. Recent field measurements have shown subglacial CH4 of microbial origin is released along the ice sheet margin; however, no estimate of the CH4 footprint of the entire GrIS currently exists. Moreover, microbiological analyses reveal a dominant presence of methylotrophic (CH4 oxidising) microorganisms in the GrIS meltwater streams. The principal aim of the PhD project is to constrain the biological sinks of subglacial CH4 and their environmental controls using a combination of field measurements and laboratory experiments, and to provide quantitative output for biogeochemical modelling to upscale obtained field and experimental data to estimate CH4 cycling beneath and export from the GrIS and its significance for the global CH4 budget. The project is part of the new multidisciplinary project Geohazards, whose principal aim is to study the threats in the Earth's upper spheres, to understand the causes of their occurrence and to quantify the possible impacts on human society.

Five relevant publications of the research group:

Znamínko M., Falteisek L., Vrbická K., Klímová P., Christiansen J.R., Jørgensen C.J., Stibal M. (2023) Methylotrophic communities associated with a Greenland Ice Sheet methane release hotspot. Microbial Ecology doi: 10.1007/s00248-023-02302-x

Vrbická K., Kohler T.J., Falteisek L., Hawkings J.R., Vinšová P., Bulínová M., Lamarche-Gagnon G., Hofer S., Kellerman A.M., Holt A.D., Cameron K.A., Schön M., Wadham J.L., Stibal M. (2022) Catchment characteristics and seasonality control the composition of microbial assemblages exported from three outlet glaciers of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Frontiers in Microbiology 13:1035197

Vinšová P., Kohler T.J., Simpson M.J., Hajdas I., Yde J.C., Falteisek L., Žárský J.D., Yuan T., Tejnecký V., Mercl F., Hood E., Stibal M. (2022) The biogeochemical legacy of Arctic subglacial sediments exposed by glacier retreat. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 36:e2021GB007126

Kohler T.J., Vinšová P., Falteisek L., Žárský J.D., Yde J.C., Hatton J.E., Hawkings J.R., Lamarche-Gagnon G., Hood E., Cameron K.A., Stibal M. (2020) Patterns in microbial assemblages exported from the meltwater of Arctic and sub-Arctic glaciers. Frontiers in Microbiology 11:669

Lamarche-Gagnon G., Wadham J.L., Sherwood Lollar B., Arndt S., Fietzek P., Beaton A.D., Tedstone A.J., Telling J., Bagshaw E.A., Hawkings J.R., Kohler T.J., Zarsky J.D., Mowlem M.C., Anesio A.M., Stibal M. (2019) Greenland melt drives continuous export of methane from the ice-sheet bed. Nature 565:73–77

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