PERMANOR – Permafrost landscapes in transformation
In the PERMANOR project we want to get knowledge about the local-scale processes of a thewing permafrost, and how this affect the global climate system. The research is cross disclipinary between permafrost researchers and meteologists. Of particular interest is the warming potential of this so-called “permafrost-carbon feedback”. The aim is to give input to the Earth System Models (ESMs) used for climate predictions, including the Norwegian Earth System Model NorESM.
Fieldwork: Britta Sannel (second from left) and MSc students Pia Axelsson and Sofia Kjellman (Stockholm University) collecting a permafrost core from a peat plateau in Finnmark with Professor Bernd Etzelmüller. Photo: Sebastian Westermann
About the project
The research project PERMANOR – "Permafrost landscapes in transformation - from local-scale processes to the global model NorESM" aims at increasing our knowledge on the role of permafrost in the global climate system. Permafrost soils contain large amounts of organic material that is protected from microbial decomposition in the frozen ground, similar to a gigantic freezer.
In a future warmer world, thawing of permafrost is expected to occur, so that this organic material could be partially decomposed and trigger a massive release of greenhouse to the atmosphere. The additional warming potential of this so-called “permafrost-carbon feedback” is so far not well captured in Earth System Models (ESMs) used for climate predictions, including the Norwegian Earth System Model NorESM.
The project brings together experts from the Department of Geociences, University of Oslo, the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen and the German Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research to investigate the highly dynamic evolution of permafrost landscapes in the light of ESM development. Rapid changes of permafrost landscapes are in many cases related to thawing ice-rich ground which can for instance transform dry and well-drained permafrost ground into a wetland within only a few years, as currently observed in mire areas in Northern Norway.
In PERMANOR, we will make use of extensive field observations in Norway, Svalbard and Siberia to better include such processes in NorESM climate simulations. The improved representation of permafrost landscape dynamics in NorESM will lead to reducing our uncertainty in the predictability of future climate change.
In autumn 2016 we conducted a joint fieldwork in Finnmark with meteorologists and climate modelers both from the University of Oslo and the Bjerknes Centre to experience the “real” permafrost landscapes which must be represented in large-scale model schemes in order to predict the magnitude of the permafrost-carbon feedback. Together with our project partner Britta Sannel from Stockholm University, we obtained cores and samples from up to 3m depth in several peat plateaus.
Thick layers of almost pure ice were documented which upon melting would lead to ground subsidence or even the formation of ponds. Not only the field datasets, but also the personal experience of the participants will in the future guide model development within the PERMANOR project.
The project is cross discplinary with researchers in geography and in meteorology. Participants from two sections at the Department of Geosciences, and other research institutions.
This project is funded through the Norwegian Research Council KLIMAFORSK program, with NFR project number 255331.
This project is carried out in cooperation with several researchers from different institutions, see links in right column for participating researchers:
- Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo
- Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
- Alfred-Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam, Germany
- Department Natural Geography, Stockholm University
- Lei Cai; Hanna Lee; Kjetil Schanke Aas & Sebastian Westermann (2020). Projecting circum-Arctic excess-ground-ice melt with a sub-grid representation in the Community Land Model. The Cryosphere. ISSN 1994-0416. 14, s 4611- 4626
- Kjetil Schanke Aas; Leo Celestin Paul Martin; Jan Nitzbon; Moritz Langer; Julia Boike; Hanna Lee; Terje Koren Berntsen & Sebastian Westermann (2019). Thaw processes in ice-rich permafrost landscapes represented with laterally coupled tiles in a land surface model. The Cryosphere. ISSN 1994-0416. 13, s 591- 609
- Leo Celestin Paul Martin; Jan Nitzbon; Kjetil Schanke Aas; Bernd Etzelmüller; Håvard Kristiansen & Sebastian Westermann (2019). Stability Conditions of Peat Plateaus and Palsas in Northern Norway. Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR): Earth Surface. ISSN 2169-9003. 124, s 705- 719
- Altug Ekici; Hanna Lee; David M. Lawrence; Sean C. Swenson & Catherine Prigent (2019). Ground subsidence effects on simulating dynamic high-latitude surface inundation under permafrost thaw using CLM5. Geoscientific Model Development. ISSN 1991-959X. 12, s 5291- 5300
- Sofia E. Kjellman; Pia E. Axelsson; Bernd Etzelmüller; Sebastian Westermann & A. Britta K. Sannel (2018). Holocene development of subarctic permafrost peatlands in Finnmark, northern Norway. The Holocene. ISSN 0959-6836. 28, s 1855- 1869
- Kjetil Schanke Aas; Kjersti Gisnås; Sebastian Westermann & Terje Koren Berntsen (2017). A Tiling Approach to Represent Subgrid Snow Variability in Coupled Land Surface–Atmosphere Models. Journal of Hydrometeorology. ISSN 1525-755X. 18, s 49- 63
- Lei Cai; Hanna Lee; Sebastian Westermann & Kjetil Schanke Aas (2019). Development of the subgrid excess ground ice framework in the Community Land Model.
- Hanna Lee & Altug Ekici (2018). Dynamic wetlands parameterization under permafrost thaw in CLM5.
- Hanna Lee; Altug Ekici; Benjamin Aubrey Robson; Yuanchao Fan; Sebastian Westermann & Moritz Langer (2018). Vulnerability of permafrost thaw and the emerging risks for the Arctic infrastructure.
- Altug Ekici; Hanna Lee; David M. Lawrence & Sean C. Swenson (2018). Coupling ground subsidence and surface wetlands.
- Hanna Lee & Casper Tai Christiansen (2017). FEEDBACK project progress.
- Hanna Lee & Altug Ekici (2017). PERMANOR project progress in the CLM.
- Yuanchao Fan; Hanna Lee & Altug Ekici (2017). Modeling biophysical and biogeochemical processes in vulnerable ecosystems under global climate change: thawing permafrost landscapes in the Arctic.
- Hanna Lee; Casper Tai Christiansen & Sebastian Westermann (2017). Advancing permafrost carbon climate feedback – improvements and evaluations of the Norwegian Earth System Model with observations (FEEDBACK).
- Casper Tai Christiansen & Hanna Lee (2017). Advancing permafrost carbon climate feedback – improvements and evaluations of the Norwegian Earth System Model with observations.
- Kjetil Schanke Aas; Sebastian Westermann; Leo Celestin Paul Martin & Terje Koren Berntsen (2017). Degrading Palsa Mires in Northern Norway Simulated with a Regional Climate Model with a Subgrid Snow Scheme.
- Hanna Lee (2017). Representing the Terrestrial Role in the Climate System.
- Hanna Lee; Altug Ekici & Casper Tai Christiansen (2017). Advancing permafrost carbon climate feedback – improvements and evaluations of the Norwegian Earth System Model with observations.
- Hanna Lee & Casper Tai Christiansen (2016). Advancing permafrost carbon climate feedback - improvements and evaluation of the Norwegian Earth System Model with observations.