Why permafrost is thawing, not melting

This week the AGU journal EOS published a FORUM article discussing the wording that is used when permafrost warms above 0 degree Celsius. Currently both 'permafrost melting' and 'permafrost thawing' are widely used. In this article we describe the implications that either term has for understanding permafrost and permafrost degradation processes. Our conclusion is supporting that of earlier permafrost researchers: permafrost thaws, ice melts. A considerable portion of permafrost contains no ground ice, and therefore can hardly melt. The term 'permafrost thawing' should therefore be used when describing permafrost degradation processes. The article is co-authored by Guido Grosse and Vladmir Romanovsky from the GI Permafrost Lab together with colleagues Antoni Lewkowicz, Fritz Nelson, and Jerry Brown. Grosse, G., Romanovsky, V., Nelson, F.E., Brown, J., Lewkowicz, A. (2010). Why permafrost is thawing, not melting. EOS 91(9), 87.