Understanding and addressing local to global impacts of permafrost thaw

Dr. Susan Natali, Arctic Program Director and Senior Scientist, Woodwell Climate Research Center

Rapid Arctic warming is thawing permafrost, which is creating hazardous conditions for Arctic residents and can impact global climate due to the large store of permafrost carbon, which, when thawed, can accelerate climate change through the release of greenhouse gases. The permafrost-climate feedback is not represented in most climate models, resulting in a severe miscalculation of how aggressively the world must pursue global emissions reductions to mitigate warming and implement actions to support adaptation and build resilience. This presentation will provide an overview of and progress from a new initiative, called Permafrost Pathways, which brings together a coalition of Western scientists, Indigenous Knowledge holders, and policy experts to address the regional to global impacts of permafrost thaw and to inform just and equitable adaptation and mitigation responses. Our multidisciplinary approach includes: strategic expansion of carbon flux monitoring sites across the permafrost zone; remote sensing of landscape disturbances associated with permafrost thaw; development of a model-data assimilation for arctic carbon cycling; supporting climate resilience including through the co-creation of just and equitable, Indigenous-led adaptation plans; and fostering partnerships with policy experts to incorporate permafrost thaw and emissions into climate adaptation and mitigation policy.

Host: Roger Michaelides

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