Research Topic B1: Arctic and Permafrost Regions deal with ice and permafrost as indicators and drivers of global climate change and the role of these regions in the global climate system. The Arctic exhibits strong evidence of climate change that goes beyond natural variability. The vulnerability of permafrost regions has severe implications for the global carbon cycle. The hypothesized link between sea ice loss and permafrost thawing as a potential positive feedback on climate change lacks observational constraint. The proposed program is mainly observational and aims to achieve observations necessary to validate and improve climate models for the Arctic system with a specific focus on the ocean-atmosphere heat transfer moderated by sea ice, the permafrost landscapes (together with the CRG Regional Hydrology) and the hydrology-controlled interactions on the energy, water and trace gas budgets.
One overarching question is the impact of changes in the sea ice cover of the Arctic Ocean on the regional climate system and the adjacent terrestrial ice-rich permafrost. Recent simulations suggest a strong link between sea ice coverage and permafrost up to 1500 km inland (Lawrence et al., 2008), but observational constraints are still lacking. Better knowledge of the interaction between the regional climate in permafrost landscapes and the Arctic sea ice is of fundamental importance for developing improved scenarios of the reaction of the permafrost system and for assessing the potential positive feedback on global climate change (Schuur et al. 2008).
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