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Permafrost is warming worldwide

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A global study including the participation of the SLF and of PERMOS demonstrates that permafrost temperatures have risen worldwide over the last 10 years.


In regions with permafrost, ground temperatures have risen by an average 0.3 degrees Celsius during the period between 2007 and 2016, in equal measure in the Arctic and the Antarctic as well as in high alpine regions of Europe and Central Asia. This is shown by a new international comparative study of the International Permafrost Network (GTN-P – Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost) which was published today in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

For this study, researchers from 26 countries analyzed permafrost temperatures from over 154 boreholes in a variety of regions. The data was measured at over 10 metres depth in the ground, where seasonal temperature fluctuations are barely noticeable and temperature changes manifest long-term trends. The rise in permafrost temperature is attributed to climate warming.

Also participating in the study under the direction of the Alfred-Wegener-Institute for polar research in Potsdam was the Swiss permafrost monitoring network PERMOS, and SLF researchers were directly involved. For twenty years, PERMOS has been observing the state of the permanently frozen underground in the Swiss Alps and the changes taking place in it. This ground has also warmed, particularly during the last decade, although the extent of the warming differs from place to place. For example, the longest measurement series in the mountain permafrost of the Murtèl-Corvatsch active rock glacier at 20 metres depth registered an increase in temperature of nearly half a degree between 2007 and 2016. The warming of the mountain permafrost can impair the stability of buildings in high alpine regions and that of steep mountain slopes.

Press release of the Alfred-Wegener-Institute