Application example: Monitoring redox dynamics in permafrost soils

Leibniz University Hannover

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Redox potentials in soils can be subject to strong temporal fluctuations depending on the water content present. In interaction with the soil temperature, the conditions for the formation or dissolution of manganese, iron (hydr)oxides and other compounds & elements can change constantly. Particularly in permafrost soils, which are subject to regular thaw and freeze cycles, these changes sometimes occur very rapidly.

But what happens when permafrost permanently thaws (= degrades)? This question is being investigated as part of an international German-Czech research project in co-operation with the Geophysical Institute of the University of Fairbanks in Central Alaska.

Redox electrodes and Hydra probes were installed in topsoil and subsoil at three sites with a different frost and redox regime, each with 3 replicates. Each site was also equipped with a data logger so that soil temperature, water content, and redox potential are continuously recorded.

The three sites include one intact permafrost soil and two differently degraded permafrost soils. Data are read at regular intervals by colleagues at the University of Fairbanks Geophysical Institute.

18 redox electrodes according to Mansfeldt (9x topsoil; 9x subsoil)
3 Ag/AgCl reference electrodes for redox measurements- special design with a greater installation depth to avoid frost damage
18 Hydra probes
3 Data logger enviLog Midis - radio, 12 V
3 Connection modules for redox and pH electrodes
3 Connection distributors SDI12
3 Outdoor protective housings + telescopic masts

Project founders:

Leibniz University Hannover
Institute for Soil Science
Herrenhäuser Straße 2
30419 Hannover

University of South Bohemia
Faculty of Science
Department of Ecosystem Biology
Branisovska 1760
37005, České Budějovice
Czech Republic



Dr. Patrick Liebmann (Leibniz Universität Hannover, DE)

Project leaders:

Prof. Dr. Georg Guggenberger (Leibniz Universität Hannover, DE)

Dr. Ing. Jiří Bárta (University of South Bohemia, České Budějovice, CZ)