From: ALFRED WEGENER INSTITUTE, HELMHOLTZ CENTRE FOR POLAR AND MARINE RESEARCH via ScienceDaily.
Published September 14, 2015 07:15 AM

Huge Permafrost study will help improve climate models

This Saturday at a conference in Quebec, Canada an international research team will present the first online data portal on global permafrost. In the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost researchers first collect all the existing permafrost temperature and active thickness layer data from Arctic, Antarctic and mountain permafrost regions and then make it freely available for download. This new portal can serve as an early warning system for researchers and decision-makers around the globe. A detailed description of the data collection is published today in an open access article on the Earth System Science Data portal.

Although the world's permafrost is one of the most important pieces in Earth's climate-system puzzle, to date it has been missing in most climate models. The reason: data on temperature and the active layer thickness were neither comprehensive nor were they available in a standard format suitable for modelling. With the new Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P), scientists from 25 countries have now filled this gap in the data.

"If we want to understand the extent to which climate change is causing the permafrost to thaw and the effect this thawing will in turn have on our climate, we have to closely observe these regions around the globe, and we also have to make our measurements freely available. 

This can only work if it is based on international cooperation, which we managed to achieve comprehensively for the first time in this project," explains database initiator Professor Hugues Lantuit, permafrost expert at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). 

Researchers measured the temperature of the permafrost by boring a hole in the frozen ground, inserting sensors and then reading the data on regular expeditions. "So far our database has brought together measurements from 1074 boreholes, 72 of which are in the Antarctic and 31 in the mountain regions of Europe and Asia. The remaining 961 measuring stations are distributed throughout the Arctic," says AWI researcher and GTN-P Director Dr Boris Biskaborn.

Map credit: Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P)

Read more at ALFRED WEGENER INSTITUTE, HELMHOLTZ CENTRE FOR POLAR AND MARINE RESEARCH via EurekAlert.

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