Permafrost thawed to a record depth in 2020

Watching the Arctic permafrost thawing for nine years, scientists from Russia note that the depth of permafrost thawing increases every year. In 2020, the active permafrost layer in the Arctic thawed to a record depth.

Permafrost melting is a very dangerous process, as a result of which huge amounts of greenhouse gases are emitted into the air. Scientists fear that permafrost melt may seriously affect the Earth’s climate and further accelerate the already accelerating global warming. Plus, there are fears that oil and gas facilities may be destroyed by permafrost melting.

“During nine years of observations we have recorded significant inter-annual variability, but despite this, there is a tendency to increase the depth of the seasonal permafrost melting layer. On placers with light soil-forming rocks the depth of permafrost can exceed ten centimeters per year – this is already a catastrophic figure”, – says Victor Valdayskikh, head of the botanical garden of Ural Federal University.

The scientist noted that observations are made in South Yamal. Given the fact that many Arctic infrastructure facilities (in particular, buildings and industrial facilities) are located on placers with light soil-forming rocks, one can predict the emergence of emergency situations associated with permafrost melting.