Peat and moss help preserve permafrost

Peat and moss help preserve permafrost

May 11, 2023

The doctor of geographical sciences spoke about the relationship between frozen rocks and climate.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. At the seminar Permafrost in a Changing Climate, held with the support of the Arctic Development Project Office (PORA) at Ukhta State University, permafrost specialist, Doctor of Geography Nelli Shpolyanskaya spoke about the relationship between frozen rocks and climate.

Abstracts from the material are provided by the portal. In Russia, permafrost covers 70 percent of the territory. Periodic cooling and warming have been observed throughout the Earth’s history. Climate fluctuations are associated with tectonic activity. When the plates converged into a supercontinent, the Earth had a warm climate, and when the continents spread apart, cold climate established.

For about 2.5 million years, there has been a Quaternary period in which we live and which now determines all natural conditions. At the same time, all the continents continue to move north. This means that in the long term, the cooling has not ended. In about 20 thousand years, the peak of a new ice age will come. However, warming continues in the short term.

Short-term climate fluctuations, and these are the fluctuations of the 20th-21st centuries, affect only the upper part of the permafrost, which does not exceed 100-150 meters. Studies have shown that it will take at least 20 thousand years to change the temperature of the deep layers of the permafrost.

“In other words, permafrost is a very inert thing. Therefore, it is not necessary to wait for the permafrost to thaw completely, as is now predicted. Permafrost is a very stable phenomenon. Moreover, its distribution also depends on vegetation. As long-term observations show, the climate is warming in the tundra and swampy regions, but the permafrost is growing”, the report says.

Both peat and moss are good heat insulators. They prevent the heating of soils, because they isolate them from the warm atmosphere. When both peat and moss are wet, they evaporate a lot, and evaporation cools. Therefore, newly formed permafrost is widespread over large areas of the forest-tundra.

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Text: Anzhelika Stepanova, Photo: Nikolay Shchipko

May 11, 2023

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