CR
Cryospheric Sciences

permafrost

It’s getting hot in here: Ancient microbes in thawing permafrost

It’s getting hot in here: Ancient microbes in thawing permafrost

Did you know that the oldest organism on Earth is believed to be a microorganism found in 3-million-year-old permafrost in Siberia? There, it was living at a cosy average temperature of -10 °C at 14 m depth. Or did you hear that some other Arctic soil microorganisms can happily live at extreme temperatures down to -40 °C? Scientists often use these “extreme” microorganisms to get an idea on how ex ...[Read More]

Climatic drivers of permafrost mounds in North American peatlands

Climatic drivers of permafrost mounds in North American peatlands

Permafrost, or perennially frozen, peatlands are among the world’s largest terrestrial carbon stores and are particularly threatened by warming climates. Understanding how modern climate controls the distribution of permafrost peatlands is crucial for making confident predictions of their past and future extents. What are permafrost peatlands? Peatlands are wetlands that develop where cold, wet co ...[Read More]

Did you know… about the ice content in mountain permafrost?

Did you know… about the ice content in mountain permafrost?

Through the eyes of a researcher studying mountain processes in the European Alps in the context of a global warming climate, let’s discover how geophysical methods help to better understand frozen ground! Permafrost defines a thermal state, i.e. permafrost is soil, sediment, or rock that remains at or below 0°C during at least two consecutive years. As permafrost is only defined by its temperatur ...[Read More]

For Dummies – How do wildfires impact permafrost? [OR.. a story of ice and fire]

Wildfire – like the ones observed in the Northwest Territories, Canada in 2014 (Fig. 1) – is a natural part of permafrost landscapes, but fires are expected to get more frequent and severe as the climate warms. This could accelerate the degradation of permafrost, with negative consequences on the local and global scale! We have a pretty good understanding of how permafrost responds to fire t ...[Read More]

Ice-hot news: The IPCC Special Report on the Oceans and the Cryosphere under Climate Change

Ice-hot news: The IPCC Special Report on the Oceans and the Cryosphere under Climate Change

You have probably heard the name “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)” mentioned frequently over the last few years. The IPCC is the United Nations body for assessing science related to climate change and it publishes global assessment reports on this topic every 5 to 10 years. Due to the current urgency of the global climate crisis and the need for more information by decision makers ...[Read More]

Cryo-Comm – Degrading Terrains

Cryo-Comm – Degrading Terrains

  Beneath dusted peaks of mountain dew A dense and rigid backcloth skulks, Worn down and compacted with Fractured decades of aged powder; Trodden into rocky outcrops To lie barrenly against This frozen, ancient soil. Subtle shifts of these forgotten rocks Ripple across subterranean sediments, Dislodging once-stable foundations That now cascade like an ocean; Echoing across the fragile firmame ...[Read More]

The hidden part of the cryosphere – Ice in caves

The hidden part of the cryosphere – Ice in caves

The cryosphere can be found in various places in many forms and shapes… in the atmosphere, on land and sea. A lesser known part of the cryosphere is hidden deep in the dark, in the cold-karstic areas of the planet: Ice caves! The ongoing climate change affecting ice all over the world is now rapidly melting these hidden ice masses as well. We therefore need to hurry up and try to collect as ...[Read More]

Image of the Week – Permafrost features disappearing from subarctic peatlands

Image of the Week – Permafrost features disappearing from subarctic peatlands

Some of the most remarkable, marginal features of permafrost – palsas – are degrading and disappearing metre by metre from North European peatlands, and are driven close to extinction by the climate change. What are these permafrost features? A palsa is a peat mound with an icy core, which stays frozen throughout summer due to the insulating property of dry peat. These mounds can rise up to 10 met ...[Read More]

Ice-hot news: The cryosphere and the 1.5°C target

Ice-hot news: The cryosphere and the 1.5°C target

Every year again, the Conference of Parties takes place, an event where politicians and activists from all over the world meet for two weeks to discuss further actions concerning climate change. In the context the COP24, which started this Monday in Katowice (Poland), let’s revisit an important decision made three years ago, during the COP21 in Paris, and its consequences for the state of the cryo ...[Read More]

Image of the Week — Biscuits in the Permafrost

In Svalbard, the snow melts to reveal a mysterious honeycomb network of irregular shapes (fig. 1). These shapes may look as though they have been created by a rogue baker with an unusual set of biscuit cutters, but they are in fact distinctive permafrost landforms known as ice-wedge polygons, and they play an important role in the global climate. Ice-wedge polygons: Nature’s biscuit-cutter In wint ...[Read More]