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ESD Explores Perils of Permafrost

Source: Susan Hubbard, Tim Kneafsey, Dan Hawkes

A video and associated article appearing earlier this week as part of KQED Science’s Deep Look series describes how Berkeley Lab Earth Sciences Division (ESD) scientists are developing new geophysical approaches to investigating the Arctic subsurface and its impact on the future of Earth’s climate. The video shows how these scientists, as part of the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment–Arctic project, are using advanced geophysical techniques to study permafrost—soil that remains frozen, often for thousands of years—from centimeter to kilometer scales. Quantifying permafrost characteristics and behavior across a wide range of scales is an important part of understanding how the Arctic system will evolve with and feedback to climate, because microbial degradation of organic matter currently locked up in the frozen permafrost has the potential to release an enormous amount of greenhouse gases in a short amount of time, if temperatures continue to rise.

The Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment–Arctic project is a collaborative project, led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, that seeks to integrate process investigations, experiments, and modeling to predict ecosystem behavior and trajectory under warming conditions. Berkeley Lab contributes to the site characterization, modeling, microbial ecology, and energy aspects of the project. The video, by KQED Science writer Joshua Cassidy, highlights some of the novel geophysical laboratory and field approaches that are being developed and implemented by ESD investigators to quantify the Arctic subsurface. These investigators include Tim Kneafsey, Susan Hubbard, Baptiste Dafflon, Craig Ulrich, and John Peterson.

To see the video and read the associated article, , go to:

To learn more about NGEE-Arctic, go to: