Changes to Permafrost In Alaska: Observations and Modeling

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 10:00 AM AKST

Vladimir Romanovsky, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Observed and predicted climatic changes will inevitably change the energy and mass fluxes at the land surface and, as a result, the near-surface and subsurface physical conditions in the Alaskan Arctic and Sub-Arctic. This will trigger changes in ecosystems and infrastructure because the stability of these systems in the north relies on the stability of ice that, so far, holds these systems together. If recent warming trends in the Arctic continue, it will take several centuries to millennia for permafrost to disappear completely in the areas where it is now actively warming and thawing. In losing permafrost, we are losing the stability of these systems. Negative consequences of this degradation will be pronounced from the very beginning because the highest ice content in permafrost is usually found in the upper few tens of meters. In this presentation we will discuss possible effects of degrading permafrost in the Alaskan Arctic and Sub-Arctic on hydrology, ecosystems, infrastructure, and the carbon cycle.

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