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Hanna Axén

Researching carbon cycling in Swedish old-growth forests

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KBC-Fysiologihuset, Linnaeus väg 6, Umeå, A5 52 21 Umeå universitet, 901 87 Umeå

I am a doctoral student researching the patterns of carbon cycling across Swedish old-growth forests. We are curious to answer questions like: What is the carbon uptake of these systems? Where is the carbon allocated and for how long does it stay in the system? Ultimately, what does this mean in terms of carbon sequestration potential, today and in a future including global change?

To bring some clarity in these questions we have established a monitoring network of 12 old-growth sites across Sweden. The aim is to capture key carbon fluxes and stocks, with protocols based on the Global Ecosystem Monitoring network. By monitoring sites across wide climatic gradients, and local moisture gradients, we hope to quantify key mechanisms regulating spatial variation in carbon cycling and storage across old-growth forests in Sweden. Capturing the transit times (the time carbon spends in the system or a compartment) of the main compartments, and potentially using radiocarbon dating to determine the age of carbon, should give us better understanding of the carbon sequestration potential, as this is a function of both carbon uptake and transit time.

Beside this cool and interesting research, I am also PhD representative at the Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, and coordinator of our ‘PhD Lunch Club’ – a weekly lunch seminar where we invite speakers to discuss relevant topics ranging from ‘time management’ to ‘climate communicating’ or ‘how to structure your data’.

Before entering the old-growth carbon puzzle, I started out in the field of physics, continued in physical geography highly focused on Arctic environments. I have worked as a high-school teacher in mathematics and natural science and am a trained Swedish mountain leader who primarily have guided guests in the Kebnekaise mountains. Outside work you’re likely to find me in the cross-country tracks, running around on trails in some forest – or, even better, in the mountains.

My main supervisor is Daniel Metcalfe, and co-supervisors are Anders Ahlström (Lund university) and Gustaf Hugelius (Stockholm University).

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