Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate Research: Where is the world’s permafrost thawing?

14.09.2015

The first global permafrost database goes online

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 (http://www.gtnp.org) 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.


The cliffs of Herschel Island, Canada

Photo: Alfred Wegener Institute / J. Obu

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 Prof. 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.

If you want to find out where the stations are located and what data is available, take a look at the GTN-P world map, where every borehole is marked with a flag. Clicking on the flag gives an instant overview of how cold the ice is below ground at this point and to what depth the ice melts in summer.

Anyone interested in downloading the data only has to register on the database once and agree to the terms and conditions. They then have free access to the time series. “The data is freely available, so that not only academics, but also politicians, officials and other interested parties can access this information and use it as a basis for decision-making. In regions where houses, roads, railways or pipelines are built on thin permafrost, the thawing process can cause severe damage. Here the database can serve as an early warning system,” explains Boris Biskaborn.

International climate research benefits from the database in two ways: “Firstly we’re making global permafrost information available in a standard format, allowing it to be easily used in climate models. At the same time we have also analysed the distribution of the measuring stations using statistical methods and can now say in which permafrost regions new stations for measuring permafrost temperature and active layer thickness are most urgently needed in order to make global climate models more reliable,” stresses Dr Vladimir Romanovsky, the Chair of the GTN-P Executive Committee, Permafrost Researcher at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and co-author of the article published today.

The International GTN-P team enters new temperature and active layer thickness measurements into the database after 12 months from the data acquisition. According to Boris Biskaborn, “This gives all contributing scientists the opportunity to first analyse and publish their results.” Every two years, the GTN-P team will prepare a report on the state of global permafrost, including information on any changes.

GTN-P was developed under the leadership of the International Permafrost Association (IPA) and supported by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). The GTN-P database was developed by Arctic Portal in Akureyri, Iceland. The data is managed in close cooperation with the GTN-P Secretariat, which is based at the Alfred Wegener Institute’s research centre in Potsdam. The database is funded by the European Union (FP7-ENV-2011, Grant Agreement no. 282700) as part of the permafrost research project PAGE21 (http://www.page21.org).


Notes for Editors:
The GTN-P database is available at http://www.gtnp.org. The GTN-P study will be published on the Earth System Science Data portal on 14th September 2015 under the following title:

Biskaborn, B. K., Lanckman, J.-P., Lantuit, H., Elger, K., Streletskiy, D. A., Cable, W. L., and Romanovsky, V. E.: The new database of the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P), Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 7, 245-259, doi:10.5194/essd-7-245-2015, 2015.

GTN-P Director Boris Biskaborn is going to present the database on Saturday 19th September at the workshop and subsequent conference listed below:

- Workshop:
2nd National Correspondents Workshop on GTN-P, University Laval, Québec, Canada, 19 – 20 September 2015, web: http://ipa.arcticportal.org/products/gtn-p/gtn-p-workshop-2015

- Conference:
7th Canadian Permafrost Conference, Quebec City Convention Centre, Canada, 20 - 23 September 2015, web: http://www.geoquebec2015.ca/en/

Until the press embargo is lifted, you can find printable photos of permafrost landscapes and research work in each region here:
http://multimedia.awi.de/medien/pincollection.jspx?collectionName=%7B1d50543d-e8...

Your contact partners at the Alfred Wegener Institute are:

• Professor Hugues Lantuit (tel. +49-(0)170-454-0677; e-mail: Hugues.Lantuit(at)awi.de)
• GTN-P Director Dr Boris Biskaborn (available until Monday, 14 September via tel. +49-(0)172 39 10 879 and e-mail: Boris.Biskaborn(at)awi.de; from Monday on tel. +49-(0)331 288-2102)

Your contact partner in the Dept. of Communications and Media Relations is Sina Löschke (tel. +49 (0) 471 4831-2008; e-mail: medien(at)awi.de).

Follow the Alfred Wegener Institute on Twitter (https://twitter.com/AWI_Media) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/AlfredWegenerInstitute). In this way you will receive all current news as well as information on brief everyday stories about life at the institute.

The Alfred Wegener Institute conducts research in the Arctic, Antarctic and oceans of the high and mid-latitudes. It coordinates polar research in Germany and provides major infrastructure to the international scientific community, such as the research icebreaker Polarstern and stations in the Arctic and Antarctica. The Alfred Wegener Institute is one of the 18 research centres of the Helmholtz Association, the largest scientific organisation in Germany.

Ralf Röchert | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.awi.de/

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system
21.07.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Scientists shed light on carbon's descent into the deep Earth
19.07.2017 | European Synchrotron Radiation Facility

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>