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The Effect of Permafrost on Northern Canadian Locales

My target audience is adults in my own community interested in learning more about climate change. I try to convey the impacts of permafrost thawing. I consider how that thaw might affect climate change at the regional and global level.
by

M Green

on 25 February 2014

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Transcript of The Effect of Permafrost on Northern Canadian Locales

What is Permafrost?
The Effect of Permafrost Thaw on Northern Canada
What is it made of?
Canadian Permafrost Distribution
Where is the Permafrost?

Current Ecosystem Impacts on the Northern Population
Coastal erosion
Flooding
Rock falls
Collapse of buildings, roads, bridges and other infrastructure
Wildlife population migration
The Global Warming Potential of Permafrost
Temperatures above the Arctic Circle are warming at approx. twice the global average
By 2100, at current hopes of keeping the global average to 2 degrees celsius, the Arctic will warm by 4 degrees.
Permafrost contains approx. 1672 gigatonnes of CO2
Current atmospheric carbon amounts to approx. 850 gtonnes (390ppm)
Arctic wetland observation lead climate scientists to estimate that 2.7% of the emissions of thawed permafrost will be methane
Methane is at least 25% more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over 100 years.
These greenhouse gases will be released as the permafrost causes decomposition of the organic matter.
The decomposition will introduce a permafrost carbon feedback cycle and potentially amplify global warming
The Effect of Permafrost Thaw on Northern Canada
M.Green February 2014
Permafrost is earth subsurface frozen ground at or below 0 degrees celsius for more then two years. Much of the permafrost is 100,000 years old.
ice, bedrock, gravel, rocks, silt and frozen organic material such as plants. The ice cements the materials together and stops erosion and decomposition. The matter has been preserved like this for thousands of years.
Permafrost covers 24%

of the world's northern latitudes
Risks and Challenges
Can the north adapt to changing conditions in time to prevent ecosystem impacts?
There is scientific uncertainty on how fast the permafrost will thaw
There is scientific uncertainty on the effects of greenhouse emissions from the thaw
There are different permafrost monitoring methods and standards that could lead to inconsistent results and conclusions (TSP and CALM networks)
The IPCC AR5 does not contain any effects or climate projections related to thawing permafrost. This ignores a potential factor affecting the validity and credibility of future projections
Case in Point - Pangnirtung Flood June 2008
A spring flash flood in Pangnirtung, Nunavut caused the collapse of two bridges connecting the north and south end of the community over the Duval river. The bridges were built on the community's permafrost.
Mitigation, Adaptation and Recommendations
The Nunavut government is active in bringing awareness to its people, the rest of the country, and the circumpolar communities via national political, civic, and cultural forums
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) recommends that the IPCC commissions a special report on permafrost emissions
The UNEP recommends creating national permafrost standardized monitoring networks
The UNEP recommends creation of national adaptation plans
References and Sources
http://www.unep.org/pdf/permafrost.pdf

http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_images.jsp?cntn_id=114865

http://www.nsf.gov/news/newsmedia/permafrost/

http://www.climatechangenunavut.ca/sites/default/files/permafrost_nunavut_eng_reduced_size_0.pdf

https://geoserver.ing.puc.cl/info/conferences/.../pdfs/GEO11Paper406.pdf‎

audio excerpts from http://www.isuma.tv/en/inuit-knowledge-and-climate-change/ (Voice over translations from subtitles done by Ninja)



Glossary
AR5 - IPCC Assessment Report 5 due out in 2014

CALM - Circumpoloar Active Layer Monitoring network

IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

NSF - National Science Foundation (American)

TSP - Thermal State of Permafrost network

UNEP - United Nations Environment Programme
Full transcript