Northern Canada feels the heat: Climate change impact on permafrost zones

Apr 24, 2012

Permafrost zones extend over 50% of Canada's land area. Warming or thawing of permafrost due to climate change could significantly impact existing infrastructure and future development in Canada's north. Researchers Jennifer Throop and Antoni Lewkowicz at the University of Ottawa, along with Sharon Smith with the Geological Survey of Canada, have published a new study, part of an upcoming special issue of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences (CJES), that provides one of the first summaries of climate and ground temperature relations across northern Canada.

Dr. Christopher Burn, Editor of the CJES special issue on fundamental and applied research on permafrost in Canada, says the study by Throop, Lewkowicz, and Smith is unusual because it presents data on permafrost throughout Canada's three northern territories. Most previous reports have concentrated on restricted regions within the North, but this paper presents conditions at the continental scale. This summary shows the factors that govern the response of permafrost to climate change, and indicates how the emphasis on snow conditions, soil moisture conditions, and surface peat and varies across the North.

"This important research gives strategic assistance in projecting how permafrost may change with the climate, as it pinpoints important characteristics, and demonstrates how these vary from place to place," says Burn. "The response of to is a critical factor must anticipate if our northern infrastructure is to be adapted to thawing ground."

Explore further: Severe ozone depletion avoided

More information: Throop, J., Lewkowicz, A.G., and Smith, S.L. Climate and ground temperature relations at sites across the continuous and discontinuous permafrost zones, northern Canada Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 49: 1. DOI:10.1139/E11-075

Related Stories

Russia may lose 30% of permafrost by 2050

Jul 29, 2011

Russia's vast permafrost areas may shrink by a third by the middle of the century due to global warming, endangering infrastructure in the Arctic zone, an emergencies ministry official said Friday.

Peat and forests save permafrost from melting

Sep 13, 2007

Permafrost may be buffered against the impacts of climate change by peat and vegetation present in the northern regions, according to a study by McMaster researchers.

Signs of thawing permafrost revealed from space

Mar 27, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- Satellite are seeing changes in land surfaces in high detail at northern latitudes, indicating thawing permafrost. This releases greenhouse gases into parts of the Arctic, exacerbating the ...

Thawing permafrost likely to boost global warming

Sep 01, 2008

The thawing of permafrost in northern latitudes, which greatly increases microbial decomposition of carbon compounds in soil, will dominate other effects of warming in the region and could become a major force promoting the ...

Recommended for you

Satellites catch the birth of two volcanic islands

3 hours ago

The birth of a volcanic island is a potent and beautiful reminder of our dynamic planet's ability to make new land. Given the destruction we've seen following natural events like earthquakes and tsunamis in t ...

Uncovering diversity in an invisible ocean world

4 hours ago

Plankton are vital to life on Earth—they absorb carbon dioxide, generate nearly half of the oxygen we breathe, break down waste, and are a cornerstone of the marine food chain. Now, new research indicates ...

Evolution of the Antarctic ice sheet

6 hours ago

ULB study sheds a new light on the stability of the Antarctic ice sheet. It shows for the first time that ice rises (pinning points that keep the floating parts of ice sheets in place) are formed during the transition between ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rubberman
4 / 5 (4) Apr 24, 2012
Russia recognized this issue a long time ago. The scientists who have been studying the retreat of these regions in siberia believe that we passed the permafrost tipping point a long time ago, this article is from 2006:

http://www.sott.n...w/148146

From another article:

"Previously, in research with academic Judith Marquand from Oxford University, he warned of the risk of the release of billions of tons of methane gas because of the melting of the Siberian peat bogs, seen as being due to global warming.
Kirpotin "

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.