Current and Future Emissions Determine Whether Subsea Arctic Permafrost Remains

Nature Communications, 15 April 2024

The level of future fossil fuel emissions will have a huge impact on whether “subsea” permafrost submerged along Arctic coastlines enters irreversible thaw, emitting its stored carbon, or remains fixed in its current frozen state. Continued high emissions along the lines of today’s will trigger rapid, irreversible acceleration of subsea permafrost thaw within the next 60 years, with all coastal permafrost regions thinner than 100 meters disappearing by 2300. In this scenario, the loss of year-round Arctic sea ice and ensuing Arctic amplification would push subsea permafrost across a critical threshold into runaway loss. Only low emissions, with CO2 production cut to net zero around 2075 or sooner, will allow large areas of the Arctic seafloor currently underlain by permafrost to remain frozen for the next thousand years.

Full paper:

By Amy Imdieke, Global Outreach Director, and Pam Pearson, Director of ICCI.
Published Apr. 19, 2024      Updated Apr. 19, 2024 7:48 pm