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Northern Canada feels the heat: Climate change impact on permafrost zones

Date:
April 24, 2012
Source:
Canadian Science Publishing (NRC Research Press)
Summary:
As climate change in the near future is likely to bring raised temperatures at northern latitudes, the characteristics of permafrost could greatly change. Changes to permafrost could have serious impact on existing and future northern infrastructures such as pipelines and could significantly affect northern communities. This study provides one of the first summaries of climate and permafrost temperature relations across northern Canada and provides valuable information needed to prepare for future.

Permafrost zones extend over 50% of Canada's land area. Warming or thawing of permafrost due to climate change could significantly impact existing infrastructure and future development in Canada's north. Researchers Jennifer Throop and Antoni Lewkowicz at the University of Ottawa, along with Sharon Smith with the Geological Survey of Canada, have published a new study, part of an upcoming special issue of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences (CJES), that provides one of the first summaries of climate and ground temperature relations across northern Canada.

Dr. Christopher Burn, Editor of the CJES special issue on fundamental and applied research on permafrost in Canada, says the study by Throop, Lewkowicz, and Smith is unusual because it presents data on permafrost throughout Canada's three northern territories. Most previous reports have concentrated on restricted regions within the North, but this paper presents conditions at the continental scale. This summary shows the factors that govern the response of permafrost to climate change, and indicates how the emphasis on snow conditions, soil moisture conditions, and surface peat and moss varies across the North.

"This important research gives strategic assistance in projecting how permafrost may change with the climate, as it pinpoints important characteristics, and demonstrates how these vary from place to place," says Burn. "The response of permafrost to climate change is a critical factor Canadians must anticipate if our northern infrastructure is to be adapted to thawing ground."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Canadian Science Publishing (NRC Research Press). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Throop, J., Lewkowicz, A.G., and Smith, S.L. Climate and ground temperature relations at sites across the continuous and discontinuous permafrost zones, northern Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 2012 DOI: 10.1139/E11-075

Cite This Page:

Canadian Science Publishing (NRC Research Press). "Northern Canada feels the heat: Climate change impact on permafrost zones." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120424100032.htm>.
Canadian Science Publishing (NRC Research Press). (2012, April 24). Northern Canada feels the heat: Climate change impact on permafrost zones. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120424100032.htm
Canadian Science Publishing (NRC Research Press). "Northern Canada feels the heat: Climate change impact on permafrost zones." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120424100032.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

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