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TitleThermal state of permafrost across the circumpolar permafrost regions - results from the latest assessment report, the SWIPA update
AuthorIsaksen, K; Romanovsky, V; Smith, S L; Drozdov, D S
SourceXI International Conference on Permafrost, book of abstracts; by Günther, F (ed.); Morgenstern, A (ed.); 2016 p. 444-445
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20150402
PublisherBibliothek Wissenschaftspark Albert Einstein (Potsdam, DE)
Meeting11th International Conference on Permafrost; Potsdam; DE; June 20-24, 2016
Mediadigital; on-line
File formatpdf
Subjectssurficial geology/geomorphology; permafrost; thermal regimes
ProgramEssential Climate Variable Monitoring, Climate Change Geoscience
LinksOnline - En ligne (PDF, 345 MB)
AbstractIn 2011 the Arctic Council directed the Senior Arctic Officials 'to review the need for an integrated assessment of multiple drivers of Arctic change as a tool for Indigenous Peoples, Arctic residents, governments and industry to prepare for the future'. This resulted in the project 'Adaptation Actions for a Changing Arctic' (AACA; AACA is now moving rapidly. Input from the cryosphere and climate expert community is now needed on the current and future state of the Arctic. To ensure AACA uses the latest knowledge of the climate system there was a need to update selected aspects of the assessment report 'Arctic Climate Issues 2011: Changes in Arctic Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost' (SWIPA 2011;, which was published in 2012. The SWIPA update will be based on the latest status on knowledge and will lead to new stand-alone reports. One of these updates is on permafrost. The SWIPA update on permafrost provides a synthesis of current knowledge across the circumpolar permafrost regions on 1) Thermal state of permafrost 2) Permafrost modeling and projections of future permafrost states, 3) Permafrost-related processes, coastal erosion, thermokarst and recent changes in thaw lake development, and finally on 4) Cumulative effects of infrastructure and climate change on permafrost and recent advances in understanding of permafrost-related geo-hazards. Here we present the results from section 1: Thermal State of permafrost. During the International Polar Year (IPY) a snapshot of permafrost thermal state for 2007-09 was developed and provided a baseline against which future change can be measured. In Canada, Alaska, Russia and Nordic countries measurements of ground temperatures were made in over 575 boreholes representing the range in vegetation, geology and climate found in the permafrost regions of the Arctic and sub-Arctic (Christiansen et al. 2010; Romanovsky et al, 2010; Smith et al. 2010). In this assessment we provide an updated picture of the current thermal state of permafrost that can be compared to measurements made during IPY to assess the change that has occurred since IPY. The analyses cover three pilot regions in the Arctic: 1) the Barents Region, 2) Baffin Bay/Davis Strait Region and 3) Bering/Beaufort/Chukchi Region. The longer term records of permafrost temperatures (time series), more than three decades long for some sites, have also been extended which allows the changes since IPY to be placed within context of the longer record. Since IPY, new record high ground temperatures are observed at many permafrost observatories across the Arctic. The greatest temperature increase since 2007-09 was more than 0.5°C and was found in the colder permafrost of the Arctic and high Arctic. In warmer permafrost such as that in the southern and central Mackenzie Valley, in the Alaskan Interior, or in the discontinuous permafrost zone in Siberia and the Nordic region the temperature increase has been much smaller or not detectable. At a few locations permafrost temperature has even slightly decreased (typically by 0.1°C).
Christiansen, H. H., B. Etzelmüller, K. Isaksen, H. Juliussen, H. Farbrot, O. Humlum, M. Johansson, T. Ingeman-Nielsen, L. Kristensen, J. Hjort, P. Holmlund, A. B. K. Sannel, C. Sigsgaard, H. J. Åkerman, N. Foged, L. H. Blikra, M. A. Pernosky, and R. Ødegård, 2010: The Thermal State of Permafrost in the Nordic area during the International Polar Year. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, 21, 156'181.
Romanovsky, V.E., Drozdov, D.S. Oberman, N.G., Malkova G.V., Kholodov A.L., Marchenko, S.S., Moskalenko, N.G., Sergeev D.O., Ukraintseva, N.G., Abramov A.A., Gilichinsky, D.A., and A.A.Vasiliev, 2010b. Thermal State of Permafrost in Russia. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, 21: 136-155.
Smith, S.L., Romanovsky, V.E., Lewkowicz, A.G., Burn, C.R., Allard, M., Clow, G.D., Yoshikawa, K., and Throop, J. 2010. Thermal state of permafrost in North America - A contribution to the International Polar Year. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, 21: 117-135.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
This presentation will provide an update of the current state of permafrost for the circumpolar North and essentially summarizes the results documented in an update of the permafrost chapter of the Snow Water Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic document, published in 2012 by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program. Specifically the presentation focusses on the documentation of changes in permafrost temperature that have occurred over the last 5 years and places these in the context of the longer term record. In general, permafrost continues to warm across the circumpolar north in response to a changing climate. New information is provided that can inform adaptation planning for a changing climate.