An Assessment of Potential Permafrost along a North-South Transect in Canada under Projected Climate Warming Scenarios from 2011 to 2100

By Andrew Tam, William A. Gough and Changwei Xie.

Published by The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Potential permafrost distributions were assessed at five Canadian locations within 55°N to 82.5°N using future climate warming projections. An ensemble of climate models produced mean changes to surface air temperatures that were applied to project 21st century warming under IPCC emissions scenarios of A1B, A2, and B1. Validation of the multi-model ensemble means showed differences from -0.1 to -0.2°C between the modeled values compared with the observed local baseline records. Future climate scenario results and site-specific soil thermal properties were applied to the Stefan Frost Number to assess climate impacts on permafrost distributions. Climate change projections indicate warming above the 1971-2000 mean air temperature baseline by a minimum of +1.5°C and a maximum of +2.4°C for the period 2011-2040; +2.6 to +4.1°C for 2041-2070; and +3.3 to +7.1°C for 2071-2100. Stefan Frost Number results projected that climate conditions will remain supportive for continuous permafrost distributions within the Canadian High Arctic region for this century. By 2040, projections in the Low Arctic indicate shifts in the potential from continuous to discontinuous permafrost. At the southernmost extent of this study within the subarctic region of northern Ontario, climate conditions are expected to be suitable for sporadic permafrost by the end this century.

Keywords: Permafrost, Climate Change, Stefan Frost Number

International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 6, Issue 2, May 2015, pp.1-18. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.297MB).

Dr Andrew Tam

Researcher, Department of Geography, Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

William A. Gough

Professor, Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Changwei Xie

Visiting Professor & Post-doctoral Researcher, Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada


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