Permafrost is warming at a global scale

Permafrost warming has the potential to amplify global climate change, because when frozen sediments thaw it unlocks soil organic carbon. Yet to date, no globally consistent assessment of permafrost temperature change has been compiled. Here we use a global data set of permafrost temperature time series from the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost to evaluate temperature change across permafrost regions for the period since the International Polar Year (2007-2009). During the reference decade between 2007 and 2016, ground temperature near the depth of zero annual amplitude in the continuous permafrost zone increased by 0.39-0.15°C. Over the same period, discontinuous permafrost warmed by 0.20-0.10°C. Permafrost in mountains warmed by 0.19-0.05°C and in Antarctica by 0.37-0.10°C. Globally, permafrost temperature increased by 0.29-0.12°C. The observed trend follows the Arctic amplification of air temperature increase in the Northern Hemisphere. In the discontinuous zone, however, ground warming occurred due to increased snow thickness while air temperature remained statistically unchanged.


Biskaborn, B.K., Smith, S.L., Noetzli, J., Vieira, G., Streletskiy, D., Schoeneich, P., Romanovsky, V., Wu, Q., Christiansen, H., Lanckman, J.P. , Abramov, A., Allard, M., Boike, J., Delaloye, R., Derevyanko, Diekmann, B., Drozdov, D., Etzelmöller, B., Grosse, G., Guglielmin, M., Ingeman-Nielsen, T., Isaksen, K., Ishikava, M., Johannson, M., Johannsson, H., Joo, A., Kholodov, A., Konstantinov, P., Kröger, T., Lambiel, C., Lewkovic, A., Luo, D., Malkova, G., Matthes, H., Meiklejohn, I., Moskalenko, N., Kaverin, D., Olivia, M., Paetzold, R., Phillips, M., Ramos, Sannel, B., Sergueev, D., Seybold, C., Skryabin, P., Sletten, R., Yoshikawa, K., Zheleznyak, M., and Lantuit, H.. 2019. Permafrost is warming at a global scale. Nature Communications. 10(264): DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-08240-4.