Response of the Permafrost to Contemporary and Expected Climate Change

  • A. V. Pavlov
Part of the NATO Science Series book series (ASEN2, volume 76)


Air temperature increase in the north of Russia for the last 25-30 years is estimated at 0.2–2.3 °C with a mean of 1 °C. The paper considers different scenarios of climate change in the future. A scenario with moderate climate warming seems to be most realistic for the first half of the 21st century. Analysis of contemporary trends in air temperature change and a model of general atmospheric circulation predict that by the year 2050 the increase of mean annual air temperature in the permafrost will not exceed 3–4 dgC; changes in atmospheric precipitation are also expected.

The response of the permafrost to the ongoing air temperature increase was basically studied using data from permafrost stations. It is expressed in increase of frozen soil temperature, activation of a number of hazardous cryogeological processes, and shrinking of total area of continuous permafrost. According to monitoring data, the increase of frozen soils temperature at a depth of 3 m for the last 15–25 years reaches 1-1.2°C. The tendency in the contemporary increasing of seasonal thaw depth is expressed less distinctly. The widely occurring of permafrost degradation under contemporary conditions is explained not only by the climate warming but also by the increasing snow cover. In the contemporary climate warming scenario, a noticeable modification of permafrost conditions by 2020–2025 is possible only in southern regions of the permafrost zone. However, by the year 2050 the degradation of the permafrost may become ubiquitous even at moderate climate warming.


Snow Cover Climate Warming Freeze Soil Permafrost Degradation Thaw Index 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. V. Pavlov
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Earth CryosphereSiberian Branch of the Russian Academy of SciencesTyumenRussia

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