Sciences in Cold and Arid Regions ›› 2016, Vol. 8 ›› Issue (5): 359-366.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1226.2016.00359


Evaluation of the permafrost stability degradation from 1980 to 2010 in China

YouHua Ran1,2, Xin Li1,3   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing of Gansu Province, Heihe Remote Sensing Experimental Research Station, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China;
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China;
    3. CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2016-03-24 Revised:2016-06-16 Published:2018-11-23
  • Contact: YouHua Ran, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences. No. 320, West Donggang Road, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China. Tel:+86-931-4967964;
  • Supported by:
    This study is supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China Projects (No. 41471359), the Youth Innovation Promotion Association of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. 2016375), and the Chinese Academy of Sciences Action Plan for West Development Project "Remote Sensing Data Products in the Heihe River Basin:Algorithm Development, Data Products Generation and Application Experiments" (No. KZCX2-XB3-15). We thank the anonymous reviewer for their extremely helpful comments on this paper.

Abstract: The degradation of permafrost stability in China over the past 30 years is evaluated using a new, high-resolution near-surface air temperature reanalysis dataset. Results show that the permafrost extent clearly decreased by 22% from 1980 to 2010, that is, a loss of 12.684;104 km2. The degradation occurred not only in the transition regions between permafrost and seasonally frozen ground, but also and more importantly, in the interior of the permafrost regions. The degradation in the interior of permafrost regions accounted for 87% of the total degraded areas. The degradation occurred mainly during the 1980s to 1990s in the northeast permafrost area and the Qilian Mountains, and during the 1990s to 2000s in most areas of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP). This degradation will have systemic impacts on engineered infrastructures in permafrost regions, the water balance, and the global carbon budget. A more robust physical model should be used to evaluate the permafrost thermal stability at finer resolution in the future.

Key words: permafrost, mean annual air temperature(MAAT), air temperature, reanalysis, thermal stability

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