Permafrost Dynamics within the Northern Eurasia Region and Related Impacts on Surface and Sub-Surface Hydrology


Project Personel

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Scientific Personel: V. E. Romanovsky, C. Duguay (University of Waterloo, Canada), S. S. Marchenko, G. Grosse, R. Daanen, D. Nicolsky (GI Permafrost Laboratory)
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Project Summary

The overarching goal of our research is to obtain a deeper understanding of the temporal (interannual and decadal to century time scales) and spatial (north to south and west to east) variability and trends in the active layer characteristics and permafrost temperatures in the 20th century and their impact on hydrology within the Northern Eurasia region, and to develop more reliable predictive capabilities for the projection of these changes into the 21st century. Permafrost has received much attention recently because surface temperatures are rising in most permafrost areas of the earth, bringing permafrost to the edge of widespread thawing and degradation. The thawing of permafrost that is already occurring at the southern limits of the permafrost zone can generate dramatic changes in ecosystems and in infrastructure performance. Observational data will be used in conjunction with a two-tiered modeling approach to simulate present, past and future permafrost conditions in the Northern Eurasia permafrost region.

The observational data will consist of subsurface and surface data, together with relevant atmospheric and remote sensing data, for the entire Northern Eurasia permafrost domain. These data will be incorporated into a Geographical Information System (GIS) for spatially distributed permafrost models and for interpretation, synthesis and integration of model results. Two tiers of model simulations will include (1) simulations for specific sites with maximum available information for calibration and validation, (2) spatially distributed simulations for the entire Northern Eurasia permafrost region using the improved GIPL model developed at the Permafrost Lab, University of Alaska Fairbanks and described by Sazonova and Romanovsky (2003). Simulations will be both retrospective (spanning the 20th century) and prognostic (spanning the 21st century).

Synthesis and integration activities will be achieved through the utilization of soil and atmospheric data from a wide range of sources in Northern Eurasia and by comparisons of present (measured) and simulated characteristics of the active layer and permafrost dynamics within the Northern Eurasia permafrost region. It will also include testing the hypothesis that recent and future climate warming will produce nonlinear responses in permafrost, thickening of the active layer over much of the Arctic, and permafrost degradation in areas in which the active layer fails to refreeze completely after summer thaw. Mapping of the latter areas will be possible from the simulations for the entire Northern Eurasia permafrost domain. The results of this calculations and mapping will be used then to test a possible relationship between permafrost degradation and Siberian rivers runoff. This research is in response to the Northern Eurasia Earth Science Partnership Initiative (NEESPI). It principally addresses the NEESPI science questions regarding the local and hemispheric effects of climate changes to permafrost.

More information on this project will follow soon.

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PDF icon Project Final Report2.67 MB