Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Climate change threatens permafrost in soil



In the coming century, permafrost in polar regions and alpine forests in the northern hemisphere may thaw rapidly, potentially releasing carbon and nitrogen that could cause additional regional warming. Permafrost occurs in soils where ground temperatures remain below freezing for at least two consecutive years. These special types of soil, called gelisols, are large reservoirs of organic carbon and nitrogen. Thawing is likely to release the carbon and nitrogen in these soils to rivers and lakes, ecosystems, and the atmosphere; different soil types are vulnerable to different thawing processes.