Carbon Monitoring in Polygonal Ponds

This blog post was co-authored by Dr. Julia Boike and her team and Zhila Rashidi (Eosense)

Hot Spots in a cold land

The Lena River Delta in northern Yakutia, northeast Siberia, Russia, is one of the largest catchment areas (2,430,000 km2) in the Arctic. Polygonal structures, which are common components of arctic Siberian wetlands, are small ponds, 10-15 meters in diameter, separated by ridges. Investigating environmental dynamics (e.g., greenhouse gas emissions, temperature change) in these remote areas is thus the key to gain more insights on causes and effects of the climatic variations observed over the last decades.

Small ponds, 10-15 meters in diameter, are separated by ridges within the Lena Delta,(Photo by Lutz Beckebanze)

Samoylov Island has been used as a base for joint Russian-German research and fieldwork since 1998. The joint Russian-German “LENA” research expeditions have been coordinated by the AWI, the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St. Petersburg, and the Melnikov Permafrost Institute in Yakutsk. The LENA expedition team also runs continuous climate and soil measurements at this site since 1998 and multi year Eddy covariance and hydrological stations since 2002.  Since 2013 the LENA expeditions can use the new Russian Research Station “Samoylov Island” operated by the Trofimuk Institute of Petroleum Geology and Geophysics in Novosibirsk. Along with a team of experts with various scientific backgrounds, the field experiment carried out this year from April to September aimed to perform first time in situ quantification of CO2 emissions at this imperative location.

This summer Dr. Julia Boike (Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI)), Dr. Ekaterina Abramova (Lena Delta Reserve, Tiksi) and Dr. Lars Kutzbach (Universitat Hamburg) have started their measurements using our compact, waterproof eosGP CO2 concentration probe for continuous in situ monitoring. The following is our latest update from Dr. Boike.



The two installed ponds in September 2017. The white boxes house the datalogger equipment and power supplies. (Photo by Julia Boike)


eosGP sensor installed within the pond to calculate the flux of CO2 . (Photo by Peter Schreiber)

Greetings from Samoylov!

A small and beautiful island located in the Lena River Delta, where the winter has just started with temperatures below zero. We’ve had the first snow fall and the freezing of the ponds and lakes has recently started. We began our work this April when air temperatures were still -20°C and the ground was frozen and snow covered. One ice core sample was taken from one of the polygons which will be analyzed later in our laboratories. This polygon, as well as the adjacent one, were later (after complete thaw of ice cover) instrumented on July 10 with Eosense eosGP-CO2, temperature and photosynthetic active radiation (PAR) sensors.


Eosense sensors hanging in air after retrieval from the ponds. In the far background, the eddy covariance site is visible (two towers next to a white field lab). These eddy obtained air CO2 concentration measurements will be compared to the Eosense in air data. (Photo by Julia Boike)

Now, we have a continuous record of these automated data, averaged in 15 min intervals (CO2, temperature profiles, PAR). Almost weekly sampling between June and September together with our biologist, Dr. Ekaterina Abramova, included primary production, chlorophyll a, phytoplanktion, phytobenthos, zooplanktion and sampling for geochemical parameters, such as cations, anions, Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC), and stable water isotopes. Dissolved oxygen (DO), electrical conductivity and pH were also measured directly measured in pond waters. Collected samples will be transferred to the laboratories in Russia and Germany for analysis. During our time at Samoylov We also experimented with spatially distributed CO2 sampling by inserting one Eosense probe into each of the studied ponds for several minutes. These data will be analyzed when back in Potsdam together with the long term data series.


Peter Schreiber is measuring DO, electrical conductivity and pH in one of the Eosense ponds. One Eosense probe was prepared for spatially distributed sampling by simply attaching it to a metal rod, immersing it in water and measuring for at least 10 min at one location (using a CR1000 Campbell Scientific datalogger and battery, all housed in a small waterproof suitcase).(Photo by Julia Boike)

The Russian research station provides a comfortable and very well equipped base not only for living, but also for doing all kinds of laboratory analysis, as well as fixing of equipment. I am very glad to experience the level of cooperation and the overall willingness of everybody to share and help each other in the field and laboratory. With this network, we made continuous sampling of all these data possible. The data will also be shared by various scientists to make this a full story.


Peter Schreiber is retrieving the eosense sensors from the pond which is about 70 cm deep. Ice has already formed on the ponds. The yellow buoy indicates the location of the PAR sensor location. (Photo by Julia Boike)


For more information on technical specification of eosGP please download our brochure.

And stay tuned for our upcoming scientific presentations and case studies which will present preliminary data collected at the Samoylov Island site.


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