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Rapid and gradual permafrost thaw: A tale of two sites

October 18, 2022

Warming temperatures and increasing disturbance by wildfire and extreme weather events is driving permafrost change across northern latitudes. The state of permafrost varies widely in space and time, depending on landscape, climate, hydrologic, and ecological factors. Despite its importance, few approaches commonly measure and monitor the changes in deep (>1 m) permafrost conditions with high spatial resolution. Here, we use electrical resistivity tomography surveys along two transects in interior Alaska previously disturbed by wildfire and more recently by warming temperatures and extreme precipitation. Long-term point observations of permafrost depth, temperature, and water content inform geophysical measurements which, in turn, are used to extrapolate interpretations over larger areas and with high spatial fidelity. We contrast gradual loss of recently formed permafrost driven by warmer temperatures and increased snowfall, with rapid permafrost loss driven by changes in air temperature, snow depth, and extreme summer precipitation in 2014.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Rapid and gradual permafrost thaw: A tale of two sites
DOI 10.1029/2022GL100285
Authors Burke J. Minsley, Neal Pastick, Stephanie R. James, Dana R.N. Brown, Bruce K. Wylie, Mason A. Kass, Vladimir E. Romanovsky
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geophysical Research Letters
Index ID 70237893
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center; Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center