Permafrost in Alaska could be reduced significantly by the end of the century, according to a recent U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study.
Using statistically modeled maps drawn from satellite data and other sources, USGS scientists have projected that the near-surface permafrost that presently underlies 38 percent of boreal and arctic Alaska would be reduced by 16 to 24 percent by the end of the 21st century under widely accepted climate scenarios.
Permafrost is defined by USGS as ground that stays below freezing for at least two consecutive years.
In addition to developing maps of near-surface permafrost distributions, the researchers developed maps of maximum thaw depth, or active-layer depth, and provided uncertainty estimates.
The research has been published in Remote Sensing of Environment. The current near-surface permafrost map is available via ScienceBase.