Ice-rich permafrost deposits will be transformed in large puddles of water in the coming decades, but before this happens, scientists want to collect information to better understand our past and predict our future, as explained by Arthur Monhonval
In the high northern latitudes of our planet, you may encounter ice-rich permafrost deposits. These deposits were formed thousands of years ago and are composed of massive ice content that made up 50% to 90% of the deposits volume (Figure 1).
Because climate warming is more intense in Arctic regions (two to three times faster than the global average), these witnesses of the past are vulnerable to thaw, exposing substantial amounts of organic carbon and affecting greenhouse gases emissions. The heat dome, recorded this summer 2021 in western Canada at 49.6C, is a rare event that is expected to occur more frequently in northern latitudes as well as warmer winters. Increasing temperatures put pressure on ice-rich deposits and will lead to ground collapse and lake formation in the future, but with what consequences?
Ice-rich permafrost formation took place around 60,000 years ago and continued for thousands of years. With freezing temperatures, each layer of sediments acts as a book where is inscribed all environmental conditions at the time of their formation (similar to ice cores from Greenland that trap in their frozen air bubbles the climate of the past). During a warmer period that took place in the early...
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