21 Feb 2012:
Global Permafrost Regions
Depicted in High-Resolution Maps
Swiss researchers have released a series of high-resolution maps depicting the global distribution of permafrost
and highlighting those regions where thawing permafrost as a result of global warming could
have the most profound effects. In a study published in The Cryosphere
, glaciologist Stephan Gruber from the University of Zurich estimated that permafrost regions cover about 22 million square kilometers worldwide — or about one-sixth of Earth’s exposed land surface — including vast regions of Siberia, Central Asia, and the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau (shown at right). Using high-resolution air temperature and elevation data, he produced maps documenting the probability of permafrost, using color-coding to differentiate zones where permafrost is near-continuous and regions where there is currently little permafrost. Thawing permafrost in inhabited regions can cause building subsidence and collapse and can also trigger the release of significant amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. “As a result of climate change, areas with permafrost have a great potential for unpleasant surprises,” Gruber said.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
e360 on Facebook
Donate to e360
View mobile site
Subscribe to our newsletter
Subscribe to our feed:
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Photographer Peter Essick documents the swift changes wrought by global warming in Antarctica, Greenland, and other far-flung places. View the gallery.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video that chronicles the story of a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant, was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject).
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
In a Yale Environment 360
video, photographer Pete McBride documents how increasing water demands have transformed the Colorado River, the lifeblood of the arid Southwest. Watch the video.