17 Feb 2010:
Permafrost Line in Quebec
Retreats 80 Miles in 50 Years, Study Says
The southern limit of permafrost around the James Bay region in Quebec has moved 80 miles to the north since 1957
, according to a new study. Scientists at the Université Laval tracked the northerly retreat of the tundra by examining distinctive, oval-shaped land elevations known as palsas, which form over permafrost. By comparing aerial photos taken in the James Bay region between the 51st and 53rd
Melt ponds on tundra
parallels in 1957 with findings from helicopter surveys in 2004 and 2005, the scientists documented the swift poleward movement of the permafrost line. The study, published in the journal Permafrost and Periglacial Processes
, also found that permafrost was in an advanced state of deterioration as far north as the 55th parallel. “If this trend keeps up, what is left of the palsas in the James Bay bogs will disappear altogether in the near future, and it is likely that the permafrost will suffer the same fate,” said one researcher. James Bay, bordered by Quebec and Ontario, forms the southernmost portion of Hudson Bay. As the Arctic has warmed in many areas by 3 to 4 degrees F in recent decades, permafrost has been melting throughout the region, and the tundra is beginning to disappear, as well
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