According to a study conducted by scientists at McGill University, the continuous degradation of Arctic permafrost would eventually lead to a sudden change in the Arctic climate with potentially disastrous outcomes for coastal cities.
The research issued in the Nature Climate Change journal suggested that the degradation of permafrost will also double the incidence of wildfires, especially in the Northwestern Territories and the Yukon.
“Arctic infrastructure is particularly impacted by permafrost degradation and associated soil moisture changes, among other factors. As we started analyzing more closely climate model simulations for the Arctic region, we noticed abrupt changes in soil moisture, as well as abrupt increases in intense rainfalls with a probable increase in lightning and wildfires, too,” explained Laxmi Sushama from McGill University.
A New Study Forecasted A Sudden Change In The Arctic Climate
“There’s not much high-resolution climate modeling done of the Arctic. Our initial climate model experiments at 50km resolution allowed us to extract critical information on climate shifts. We used climate model data spanning the 1970-2100 period to understand likely changes in the Arctic climate and permafrost. What we came away with, was a picture of alarming changes to climate-driven by permafrost degradation,” explained Bernardo Teufel, the study’s leading author.
Previous studies estimated that the Arctic permafrost gradually degrades, and that’s not affecting the Arctic climate much. But the scientists usually looked back only for 30 years, missing some significant changes. That’s why researchers from McGill took another approach and studies sudden climate changes in the Arctic region.
At the moment, the scientists plan to continue simulating how climate change affects the Arctic climate and the global climate, as well. However, the new study warns that a sudden change in the Arctic climate might happen soon, affecting the whole world, increasing the sea level, and doubling the incidence of wildfires.