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Frequently Asked Questions


 PAGE21 MammothEddy, the PAGE21 Mammoth

Q1: What is permafrost?

  • A: Permafrost is permanently frozen soil that remains below the freezing mark all year around. The scientific definition states that the soil must stay at or below 0°C at least two consecutive summers to be considered permafrost.

Q2: How much of the earth surface is classified as permafrost?

  • A: 24% of the earth´s land surface in the northern hemisphere is classified as permafrost. Permafrost can be found in the Arctic, but also in mountaineous regions around the globe (even on top of the Kilimandjaro), on the Tibet Plateau and in Antarctica.

Q3: Why is permafrost such a hot topic right now?

  • A: In recent decades, global climate has been changing rapidly. strong warming has been observed, especially in the high latitudes and climate models project strong warming also in the future. Because of this warming climate, permafrost begins to thaw.
  • This thawing can have severe consequences for infrastructure in permafrost areas but most importantly, it will allow previously frozen carbon to be transformed by microbes into carbon dioxide or methane. Scientists have established that previously unsuspected amounts of carbon and nitrogen in to the atmosphere, possibly accelerating global warming even more. This is the "Permafrost carbon feedback".

Q4: What is PAGE21 researching?

  • A: The PAGE21 project aims to understand the interactions between the global climate system and frozen ground. It will quantify permafrost thaw in selected areas in the northern hemisphere and measure nitrogen and carbon emissions in these areas. In addition, the project will investigate what direct impacts the thawing and the nitrogen and carbon emissions will have on the climate of the Earth.






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