CIPEDIA - Assesment of Climate-Induced Permafrost Degradation in the Arctic


Project Personel

Main Contact:
Scientific Personel: G. Grosse, V.E. Romanovsky
Partner Organizations:

Project Summary


The degradation, i.e. warming and thawing of permafrost and the subsequent surface subsidence is a typical reaction of permafrost landscapes to climatic warming. This process (thermokarst) occurs in extensively in lowland regions of the circum-Arctic (i.e. Alaska, Canada, and Siberia). Thermokarst has a strong impact on hydrological patterns, northern latitude ecology and infrastructure stability. The subsistence life style of local residents is also largely affected by these changes. The spatial and temporal characteristics of changes in surface properties are important parameters for local to global modeling of surface energy and mass fluxes. The degradation of permafrost re-mobilizes large amounts of sediment, freshwater, organic carbon (including greenhouse gases) with consequences for various global cycles which are poorly understood. With increasing climate warming predicted for high latitudes over the next decades, these consequences are of primary concern. In order to provide a comprehensive insight into this phenomenon and the balancing of energy and mass fluxes, it is necessary to quantify and monitor the circum-Arctic distribution of thermokarst. Within this project, the characteristics, distribution, and spatial and temporal dynamics of permafrost degradation will be analyzed at a circum-Arctic scale. Remote sensing data, and published and new field data will be used for the supra-regional classification of thermokarst-affected areas. The effort includes the construction of a GIS database, subsequent spatial data analysis, and digital publication of the results in a ready-to-use state for permafrost and climate modelers. Finally, recent thermokarst distribution will be catalogued as a baseline for monitoring future changes. Ground ice distribution and related vulnerability of ecosystems and infrastructure to climate warming will be derived and result in additional GIS layers.

Connection to IPY 2007/2008

CIPEDIA fits into the major IPY themes 1 to 3 (i.e. the current status of Arctic environments, the observation and impact of changes therein, and teleconnection between the Arctic and lower latitudes, respectively).

CIPEDIA’s strength is the determination of the present status of Arctic permafrost degradation by quantifying its spatial distribution. This unique baseline will provide a new tool for the identification and understanding of Arctic environmental forcing parameters in the past and present in order to improve predictions for future permafrost evolution. CIPEDIA will increase the awareness of the ecological impact of permafrost degradation and elucidate the past, recent and future changes of thermokarst distribution. CIPEDIA will be closely integrated with other IPY certified projects, e.g. “Permafrost Observatories: Thermal State of Permafrost (TSP)” and “Arctic Circum-Polar Coastal Observatory Network (ACCO-Net)”. Together with IPY data and spatially distributed permafrost modeling, the CIPEDIA results will permit a reliable assessment of climate change impact on Arctic ecosystems and infrastructure in the 21st century. Within the IPY, CIPEDIA will contribute to the following major scientific research questions:

  • Behavior of landscape and permafrost dynamics during climate change
  • Impact of permafrost degradation on ecosystems and infrastructure
  • Balancing of mass fluxes in the Arctic environment
  • Dynamics of Arctic permafrost coasts
  • Jorgenson T, Yoshikawa K, Kanevskiy M, Shur Y, Romanovsky V, Marchenko S, Grosse G, Brown J, Jones B (2008): Permafrost Characteristics of Alaska - A new permafrost map of Alaska. Ninth International Conference on Permafrost.
  • Schirrmeister L, Meyer H, Wetterich S, Siegert C, Kunitsky VV, Grosse G, Kuznetsova TV, Derevyagin AYu (2008): The Yedoma Suite of the Northeastern Siberian Shelf Region: Characteristics and Concept of Formation. In: 'Ninth International Conference on Permafrost', Kane DL & Hinkel KM (eds), Institute of Northern Engineering, University of Alaska Fairbanks, pp. 1595-1600.
  • Grosse G, Schirrmeister L, Romanovsky VE (2007): Remote Sensing and GIS Based Quantification of Thermokarst in North Siberian Yedoma Deposits and Implications for Holocene Landscape and Carbon Dynamics. EOS Transactions AGU, 88(52), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract GC23A-0986.
  • Grosse G (2007): Changing permafrost landscapes in North Eurasia. Eurasian Hydroclimatology Workshop, Fairbanks, USA, 12-14 November 2007.
  • Walter K, Vas D, Brosius L, Sarkar S, Grosse G (2007): Reducing uncertainty in emission estimates of methane bubbling from arctic lakes. EOS Transactions AGU, 88(52), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract B53A-0920.
  • Grosse G, Schirrmeister L, Siegert Ch, Kunitsky V, Kholodov A (2007): Quantification of sediment, ground ice, and organic carbon content in Ice Complex deposits of the Laptev Sea region. International Conference «CRYOGENIC RESOURCES OF POLAR REGIONS» Salekhard, Russia, 17-20 June 2007.
  • Schirrmeister L, Wetterich S, Grosse G, Siegert C, Kunitsky V (2007): Structure, Composition, and Origin of the Yedoma Suite around the Laptev Sea. International Conference «CRYOGENIC RESOURCES OF POLAR REGIONS» Salekhard, Russia, 17-20 June 2007.
  • Edwards M, Walter K, Grosse G, Zimov S, Bartelin P, Valdes P, Chapin FS (2007): Late-Quaternary dynamics of arctic thermokarst lakes contribute feedbacks to deglacial climate warming. XVII INQUA Congress, Cairns, Australia, 28th July - 3rd August, 2007.
  • Grosse G (2007): Characteristics and dynamics of climate-induced permafrost degradation in northern hemisphere permafrost regions. University of Alaska Board of Regents Briefing on IPY Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship Project. 6 June 2007, Fairbanks.
  • Grosse G, Romanovsky V, Yoshikawa K, Jorgenson T, Shur Y, Walter K, Hinzman L, Brown J (2007): Circumarctic Thermokarst Assessment - Initiation of an effort to quantify the impacts and feedbacks of permafrost degradation. GCCA-7 Fairbanks, USA, February 19-21, 2007.
  • Grosse G, Schirrmeister L, Siegert Ch, Meyer H, Andreev AA, Kunitsky VV, Derevyagin AYu, Hubberten H-W (2006)(invited): Climate-induced dynamics of periglacial landscapes in NE Siberia - The western edge of Beringia during the Late Quaternary. AGU Fall Meeting, 11-15 December, San Francisco, U.S.A.
  • Grosse G, Brown J, Romanovsky VE (2006): The response and role of permafrost on a warming planet. ICARP II Implementation Workshop, 19-21 November, Potsdam, Germany.
  • Grosse G, Romanovsky VE (2006)(invited): Characteristics and dynamics of climate-induced permafrost degradation in northern hemisphere permafrost regions - Presentation of an IPY Postdoctoral Fellowship at the UAF. Helge Ingstad Memorial Symposium on Arctic Change, 8-9 September, Fairbanks, U.S.A.
  • Grosse G, Schirrmeister L, Siegert Ch, Kunitsky VV, Slagoda EA, Andreev AA, Dereviagyn AYu (2006): Geological and geomorphological evolution of a sedimentary periglacial landscape in Northeast Siberia during the Late Quaternary. AAAS Arctic Science Conference, 2-4 October, Fairbanks, Alaska, U.S.A.