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
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
Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The 2015 Yale e360 Video Contest winner documents a Northeastern town's bitter battle over a wind farm. Watch the video.
A 2015 Yale e360 Video Contest winner captures stunning images of wild salmon runs in Alaska. Watch the video.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
video goes onto the front lines with Colorado firefighters confronting deadly blazes fueled by a hotter, drier climate. Watch the video.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.