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Permafrost Thaw with Thermokarst Wetland-Lake and Societal-Health Risks: Dependence on Local Soil Conditions under Large-Scale Warming

1
Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company, Box 3091, 169 03 Solna, Sweden
2
Department of Physical Geography and Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
3
Flodea Consult, 115 38 Stockholm, Sweden
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(3), 574; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11030574
Received: 19 December 2018 / Revised: 11 March 2019 / Accepted: 12 March 2019 / Published: 20 March 2019
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Abstract

A key question for the evolution of thermokarst wetlands and lakes in Arctic and sub-Arctic permafrost regions is how large-scale warming interacts with local landscape conditions in driving permafrost thaw and its spatial variability. To answer this question, which also relates to risks for ecology, society, and health, we perform systematic model simulations of various soil-permafrost cases combined with different surface-warming trends. Results show that both the prevalence and the thaw of permafrost depended strongly on local soil conditions and varied greatly with these for the same temperature conditions at the surface. Greater ice contents and depth extents, but also greater subsurface volumes thawing at depth under warming, are found for peat soils than other studied soil/rock formations. As such, more thaw-driven regime shifts in wetland/lake ecosystems, and associated releases of previously frozen carbon and pathogens, may be expected under the same surface warming for peatlands than other soil conditions. Such risks may also increase in fast permafrost thaw in mineral soils, with only small thaw-protection effects indicated in the present simulations for possible desertification enhancement of mineral soil covers. View Full-Text
Keywords: wetlands; permafrost; climate change; soil conditions; Arctic; sub-Arctic; ecosystem regime shifts; health risk; climate feedback wetlands; permafrost; climate change; soil conditions; Arctic; sub-Arctic; ecosystem regime shifts; health risk; climate feedback
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Selroos, J.-O.; Cheng, H.; Vidstrand, P.; Destouni, G. Permafrost Thaw with Thermokarst Wetland-Lake and Societal-Health Risks: Dependence on Local Soil Conditions under Large-Scale Warming. Water 2019, 11, 574.

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