Permafrost-Forest Dynamics

  • Yoshihiro IijimaEmail author
  • Alexander N. Fedorov
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 236)


Eastern Siberia is located at the centre of a continuous permafrost zone. The most prominent feature of this zone is its vast cover by deciduous coniferous boreal (taiga) forest. Underlying the boreal ecosystem is an extensive and massive ice layer within the permafrost (Yedoma), which was crucial for the development of large ground subsidence during the Holocene, which is closely related to ice volume loss. Therefore, scattered large grassland depressions (alas) and transitional topography under permafrost degradation (thermokarst) are also observed throughout central Yakutia. Extensive thermokarst evolution in this region has resulted in the development of successive thermokarst landforms. Thermokarst processes are enhanced by soil warming, indicating that both atmospheric warming and precipitation changes in summer and winter have had a marked effect on hydrothermal conditions within the active layer and upper part of the permafrost during recent decades. An increase in the mean active-layer depth of only a few tens of centimetres would release large amounts of water and carbon. Predicting permafrost landscape changes is not straightforward; it is hindered by uncertainty, by the need to consider combined ecosystem effects, by sociocultural interactions, and by hydrothermal processes. Permafrost landscape changes will have an impact on indigenous livelihoods, as has already been noted at local and regional levels. These permafrost-related influences will amplify feedback mechanisms between the climate and water and carbon cycles through permafrost degradation and concurrent boreal ecosystem changes.


Alas Active layer Shielding layer Thermokarst Yedoma 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of BioresourcesMie UniversityTsuJapan
  2. 2.Melnikov Permafrost Institute, RASYakutskRussia

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