Plants, wet soil and ice compensate for permafrost degradation

Plants, wet soil and ice compensate for permafrost degradation

August 23, 2023

The results of almost half a century of observations were presented by Russian and American scientists.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. After 43 years of observing permafrost thaw in the Yamal tundra, scientists have concluded that vegetation, soil moisture and ice content compensate for the degradation of permafrost.

The research was carried out by scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences Siberian Branch’s Tyumen Scientific Center’s Earth Cryosphere Institute, Tyumen State University and George Washington University (USA). The results of almost half a century of work are presented in the Geoscience journal.

Gleb Oblogov, senior researcher at the Earth Cryosphere Institute, said that permafrost is rocks that have been frozen for more than three years. The seasonally thawed, or active, layer is a thin layer of soil up to 200 centimeters thick – it is located above the permafrost. This layer thaws in summer and freezes in winter. At the end of summer, when the seasonal thawing of the soil reaches its maximum, scientists measure the depth, humidity, content of mineral and organic substances of the active layer.

At the Marre-Sale research station, where observations were made, the average annual air temperature increased by 4 degrees over 43 years. The active layer increased by 10 centimeters in well-drained tundra and by 33 centimeters in sandy soil with few plants. In peat bogs, the depth of the active layer remained constant or even decreased by 14 centimeters in the wet tundra.

Scientists have found that, in addition to the climate, the depth of thawing is influenced by the snow cover height, the precipitation time and duration, the upper rocks humidity and plants.

Recall that permafrost is also studied in the Taimyr tundra. Previously, scientists found that peat and moss help preserve permafrost.

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Text: Angelica Stepanova, Photo: Olga Polyanskaya

August 23, 2023

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