Contrasting characteristics, changes, and linkages of permafrost between the Arctic and the Third Pole

Xuejia Wang, Youhua Ran, Guojin Pang, Deliang Chen, Bo Su, Rui Chen, Xin Li, Hans W. Chen, Meixue Yang, Xiaohua Gou, M. Torre Jorgenson, Juha Aalto, Ren Li, Xiaoqing Peng, Tonghua Wu, Gary D. Clow, Guoning Wan, Xiaodong Wu, Dongliang Luo

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragÖversiktsartikelPeer review


Permafrost degradation poses serious threats to both natural and human systems through its influence on ecological–hydrological processes, infrastructure stability, and the climate system. The Arctic and the Third Pole (Tibetan Plateau, TP hereafter) are the two northern regions on Earth with the most extensive permafrost areas. However, there is a lack of systematic comparisons of permafrost characteristics and its climate and eco-environment between these two regions and their susceptibility to disturbances. This study provides a comprehensive review of the climate, ecosystem characteristics, ground temperature, permafrost extent, and active-layer thickness, as well as the past and future changes in permafrost in the Arctic and the TP. The potential consequences associated with permafrost degradation are also examined. Lastly, possible connections between the two regions through land-ocean–atmosphere interactions are explored. Both regions have experienced dramatic warming in recent decades, characterized by Arctic amplification and elevation-dependent warming on the TP. Permafrost temperatures have increased more rapidly in the Arctic than on the TP, and will likely be reinforced under a future high emission scenario. Near-surface permafrost extents are projected to shrink in both regions in the coming decades, with a more dramatic decline in the TP. The active layer on the TP is thicker and has substantially deepened, and is projected to thicken more than in the Arctic. Widespread permafrost degradation increases geohazard risk and has already wielded considerable effects on the human and natural systems. Permafrost changes have also exerted a pronounced impact on the climate system through changes in permafrost carbon and land–atmosphere interactions. Future research should involve comparative studies of permafrost dynamics in both regions that integrate long-term observations, high-resolution satellite measurements, and advanced Earth System models, with emphasis on linkages between the two regions.

TidskriftEarth-Science Reviews
StatusPublished - 2022 juli

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© 2022 Elsevier B.V.

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Geofysik


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