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Nat Commun. 2019 Jan 16;10(1):264. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-08240-4.

Permafrost is warming at a global scale.

Author information

1
Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam, 14473, Germany. boris.biskaborn@awi.de.
2
Geological Survey of Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa, ON-K1A 0E8, Canada.
3
WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Davos, CH-7260, Switzerland.
4
Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam, 14473, Germany.
5
CEG/IGOT, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, 1600-276, Portugal.
6
George Washington University, Washington DC, 20052, USA.
7
Institut de Géographie Alpine, Grenoble, F-38100, France.
8
University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK-99775, USA.
9
University of Ottawa, Ottawa, K1N 6N5, Canada.
10
Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems of Soil Science, RAS, Moscow, 142290, Russia.
11
Université Laval, Centre d'études nordiques, Québec, G1V 0A6, Canada.
12
Humboldt-Universität, Geography Department, Berlin, 10099, Germany.
13
The University Center in Svalbard, Longyearbyen, N-9171, Norway.
14
University of Fribourg, Fribourg, CH-1700, Switzerland.
15
University of Potsdam, Potsdam, 14469, Germany.
16
Earth Cryosphere Institute, Tyumen Scientific Centre SB RAS, Tyumen, 625000, Russia.
17
University of Oslo, Department of Geosciences, Oslo, N-0316, Norway.
18
Insubria University, Department of Theoretical and Applied Sciences, Varese, 21100, Italy.
19
Technical University of Denmark, Department of Civil Engineering, Kgs. Lyngby, DK-2800, Denmark.
20
Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Oslo, 0313, Norway.
21
Hokkaido University, Sapporo, 060-0810, Japan.
22
Lund University, Lund, 22362, Sweden.
23
Arctic Portal, Akureyri, 600, Iceland.
24
Komi Science Centre, RAS, Syktyvkar, 167972, Russia.
25
Melnikov Permafrost Institute, RAS, Yakutsk, 677010, Russia.
26
Free University Berlin, Geography Department, Berlin, 12249, Germany.
27
University of Lausanne, Lausanne, 1015, Switzerland.
28
Northwest Institute of Eco-environment and Resource, CAS, Lanzhou, 730000, China.
29
Rhodes University, Grahamstown, 6140, South Africa.
30
University of Barcelona, Barcelona, 08001, Spain.
31
Universidad de Alcalá, Madrid, 28801, Spain.
32
Stockholm University, Stockholm, SE-106 91, Sweden.
33
Institute of Environmental Geoscience, RAS, Moscow, 101000, Russia.
34
National Soil Survey Center, Lincoln, NE-68508, USA.
35
Tyumen State University, Tyumen, 625003, Russia.

Abstract

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.

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