Permafrost is warming at a global scale

Boris K. Biskaborn, Sharon L. Smith, Jeannette Noetzli, Heidrun Matthes, Gonçalo Vieira, Dmitry A. Streletskiy, Philippe Schoeneich, Vladimir E. Romanovsky, Antoni G. Lewkowicz, Andrey Abramov, Michel Allard, Julia Boike, William L. Cable, Hanne H. Christiansen, Reynald Delaloye, Bernhard Diekmann, Dmitry Drozdov, Bernd Etzelmüller, Guido Grosse, Mauro GuglielminThomas Ingeman-Nielsen, Ketil Isaksen, Mamoru Ishikawa, Margareta Johansson, Halldor Johannsson, Anseok Joo, Dmitry Kaverin, Alexander Kholodov, Pavel Konstantinov, Tim Kröger, Christophe Lambiel, Jean-Pierre Lanckman, Dongliang Luo, Galina Malkova, Ian Meiklejohn, Natalia Moskalenko, Marc Oliva, Marcia Phillips, Miguel Ramos, A. Britta K. Sannel, Dmitrii Sergeev, Cathy Seybold, Pavel Skryabin, Alexander Vasiliev, Qingbai Wu, Kenji Yoshikawa, Mikhail Zheleznyak, Hugues Lantuit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Permafrost warming has the potential to amplify global climate change, because when frozen sediments thaw it unlocks soil organic carbon. Yet to date, no globally consistent assessment of permafrost temperature change has been compiled. Here we use a global data set of permafrost temperature time series from the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost to evaluate temperature change across permafrost regions for the period since the International Polar Year (2007–2009). During the reference decade between 2007 and 2016, ground temperature near the depth of zero annual amplitude in the continuous permafrost zone increased by 0.39 ± 0.15 °C. Over the same period, discontinuous permafrost warmed by 0.20 ± 0.10 °C. Permafrost in mountains warmed by 0.19 ± 0.05 °C and in Antarctica by 0.37 ± 0.10 °C. Globally, permafrost temperature increased by 0.29 ± 0.12 °C. The observed trend follows the Arctic amplification of air temperature increase in the Northern Hemisphere. In the discontinuous zone, however, ground warming occurred due to increased snow thickness while air temperature remained statistically unchanged.
Original languageEnglish
Article number264
Number of pages11
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jan 16

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
  • Climate Research


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