New Indicators of Permafrost Thaw in Alaska

Nature Geoscience, 6 June 2022

The formation of taliks – unfrozen ground surrounded by permafrost – is an important mechanism for and indicator of permafrost degradation. As temperatures increase, more taliks will form in a wider area of the Arctic’s permafrost regions. Under a high-emissions scenario, talik will form in nearly three-quarters of Alaska’s discontinuous permafrost zone within the next decade. By 2090, talik may reach up to 12 metres thickness in areas such as black spruce forest and warmer ecosystems. Increasing permafrost degradation will release previously trapped materials into waterways and create challenges for infrastructure maintenance.