Rapid warming in the Arctic is leading to the thawing of carbon-rich soils that have been permanently frozen for millennia. The release of greenhouse gases from thawed permafrost could increase the rate of global warming, but this depends on the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere, and whether carbon is released as carbon dioxide or the more potent greenhouse gas methane.
Results show that climate warming and permafrost thaw could potentially enhance methylmercury toxin production by an order of magnitude, impacting Arctic terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems by increased exposure to mercury through bioaccumulation and biomagnification in the food web.
Ice wedges, which are a common subsurface feature in permafrost landscapes, appear to be rapidly melting throughout the Arctic altering the microtopography and causing succession in polygon type that has profound changes to the storage and flow of water on the landscape
Progress and Accomplishments
NGEE Arctic scientists contribute to an international database of vegetation data from the Alaskan Arctic tundra
Modeling the Spatiotemporal Variability in Subsurface Thermal Regimes across a Low-Relief Polygonal Tundra Landscape
Study develops an end-to-end high resolution modeling framework to simulate permafrost thermal dynamics of microtopography dominated polygonal tundra landscape
UAF Researchers “Scale Up” Permafrost Thermal Measurements in Western Alaska Using an Ecotype Approach
Field scientists develop a ground temperature map for western Alaska based on measured relationships between ground thermal regimes and vegetation ecotypes