Permafrost thaw is about WAY more than carbon and climate. From impacting caribou to mobilizing mercury and legacy arsenic from gold mining, many thaw impacts are not conceptualized yet let alone understood. Below shows how pockmarks of thaw can consume entire forests. 1/ Photograph of wet thaw features within permafrost forest.
How can permafrost thaw consume whole forests or trigger landslides? The answer is simple yet so complex. Ground ice. Thaw of ice-rich permafrost causes drama. Peek inside permafrost to view gorgeous ice wedges in Alaska's #permafrosttunnel. Stunning. 2/
Ground ice content in the permafrost drives what happens after thaw. Check out this awesome visualization. On the left is what happens when ice-rich permafrost warms up. The literal backbone of the Arctic disappears. 3/
Main message- not all permafrost is created equal when it comes to impacts after thaw. What are those impacts? Let's take a tour, starting with @forestecogrp and me talking about 🔥+ thaw and what it means for caribou and caribou food (#lichens!). 4/
Thaw of ice-rich permafrost means travel across land becomes difficult, impossible, or dangerous. Travel on water also can become impeded by erosion such as this slide on the #Mackenzie River 🇨🇦. Boating routes or fishing areas used for generations impacted by a single event. 5/ Image of a landslide triggered by permafrost thaw causing er
Want to see what a landslide looks like in the Arctic? This video is insane. As the permafrost "glue" thaws, the top layer of land literally detaches from what is underneath and triggers the slide. Video from scientists in Denali National Park. 6/
Unfortunately I need to talk about more alarming issues we are going to face with permafrost thaw. Let's talk about contaminants and what else is stored in permafrost OTHER than carbon. But first I need to break for a @BNZ_LTER meeting... 7/
Permafrost organic matter is sticky when it comes to contaminants. As a result, permafrost stores globally significant pools of mercury. After thaw, mercury can make its way into aquatic systems (fire, erosion, etc.) where it can be methylated. Bad news for Arctic food chains. 8/ Cartoon of how mercury can be methylated and magnify through
Just like carbon, not all of the stored pools of mercury or other contaminants will be vulnerable for release. But clearly some contamination of Arctic fish right now stems from past and ongoing permafrost thaw. 9/
A final example of the impermanence of permafrost. The >200,000 tons of arsenic trioxide dust stored underground near Yellowknife is from historic gold mining. It was buried in permafrost. With thaw, plan B is to use coolants to keep that arsenic out of groundwater. Crikey. 10/10 Photograph of Giant Mine in Yellowknife Northwest Territorie

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More from @queenofpeat

3 Mar
Have a job offer? Need to negotiate but not sure how? Negotiating wisely has long-term $ impacts, yet often is considered a taboo topic. No more! Here I'll share some advice as someone who has sat on both sides. Please share to help out early career colleagues in any field! 1/
Why is negotiating a taboo subject? Many orgs (including universities) have convinced us that we should feel honored & lucky to receive a job offer. I call bullshit. We all worked too hard for that. Rule 1: the minute you have a job offer, you are in the driver's seat. 2/
Also why negotiating is taboo - good negotiators are often described as cunning & shrewd, not "becoming" for women. I call bullshit for the second time. Rule 2: Negotiating is about communication, relationship building, & strategic thinking. These are areas where women excel. 3/
Read 6 tweets
13 Jan
In case you thought Sphagnum was only found in boreal peatlands. This is one of my most favorite discoveries, carved into a Sphagnum hill on Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe. I've imagined all sorts of stories....someone loves this place. Sphagnum hill and door in Guadeloupe.
My 5 favorite Sphagnum facts:
1) Sphagnum is a genus with >350 species thriving all over the world.
2) Sphagnum is THE most important genus for carbon in the biosphere. Its biomass stores more carbon (once in the atmosphere) than any other genus of life. 2/ Photograph of Sphagnum mosses
Vascular plants have roots to acquire water & nutrients, how can Sphagnum compete? They are master manipulators! Fact 3: As they mature, Sphagnum cells release protons, which lowers adjacent pH & benefits the Sphagnum. Sneaky acid ninjas. 3/ Image of Sphagnum acid release and cation exchange capacity
Read 6 tweets
1 Dec 20
Pimples or pingos? Thoughts on thawing permafrost and explosive craters in Siberia, starting with this nice @BBC_Future article. 1/…
Pingo means small hill in Inuvialuit (Yakut: bulgunnyakh). For years, permafrost scientists wondered if these explosive craters were the remnants of pingos collapsing (sometimes called ognips). Check out my entire list of favorite permafrost terms. 2/
We often find craters or other forms of collapse from thawing permafrost. @forestecogrp and I flew over this one in NW 🇨🇦. However, what we've seen in Alaska and 🇨🇦 are forms of subsidence/slumping, whereas the craters in Siberia are explosive. 3/ ImageImage
Read 7 tweets
14 Nov 20
With a lot of debate this week on how models simulate permafrost thaw & climate impacts, I want to explain how we actually MEASURE permafrost change. Follow this thread for the pretty scenes or the weird science. Here is me caught in a surprise ❄️ squall w/ permafrost gear. 1/ Picture of Dr. Turetsky holding metal field equipment on a r
The traditional method of monitoring permafrost change is through the trusty frost probe. In this quick video I explain our work on 🔥-permafrost interactions while taking a frost probe measurement. 2/
Below check out a time lapse video of frost probing along one of our transects in the Northwest Territories 🇨🇦. I share these field sites with an array of incredible students & the fabulous @forestecogrp. 3/
Read 10 tweets
12 Nov 20
@ClimateOfGavin @mammuthus @theresphysics Buckle up for a permafrost ride! This paper is a thought experiment that relies on my empirical & modeling work on permafrost C release. First, I ♥️ using models for thought experiments so that is a positive here. Below is what permafrost THAW looks like - it's complicated! 1/ Image
@ClimateOfGavin @mammuthus @theresphysics Permafrost is represented very crudely in most models to date. We know these frozen soils store a lot of C, but we know that only a fraction of that C is vulnerable to decomposition post-THAW. As temp constraints are released, there are other mechanisms that protect that C. 2/ Image
@ClimateOfGavin @mammuthus @theresphysics Only a fraction of permafrost C is vulnerable to release upon THAW, & of that most will be released as CO2. I study methane & yes it's important & likely to be more so in the future. The authors' thought experiment regarding fraction of methane release in this paper is silly. 3/ Image
Read 5 tweets
2 Nov 20
It's a great day for a permafrost mash-up! Let's combine a few things I love - permafrost, language, & culture. Follow this thread if you want to learn some *cool* words from across the Arctic. Great for Scrabble or your next northern adventure. My top 10 #Permaterms 1/
My first #permaterm is pingo, which means small hill in Inuvialuit. A pingo is a mound in the permafrost region that has a core of massive ice & covered w/ soil & vegetation. Several are protected in the Pingo National Landmark area,Tuktoyaktuk Northwest Terroritories Canada. 2/ Pingo National Landmark area,Tuktoyaktuk Northwest Terrorito
Pingos vary in size & can have a crater that form as the surface ruptures during doming. The term pingo has been part of western science lexicon since the 1930’s (attributed to botanist Alf Porsild) & today is preferred over the older technical term hydrolaccolith. 3/ Image of a cratered pingo in northwestern Canada.
Read 20 tweets

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