Ice-Rich Yedoma Permafrost: A Synthesis of Circum-Arctic Distribution and Thickness

Jens.Strauss [ at ]


Vast portions of Arctic and sub-Arctic Siberia, Alaska and the Yukon Territory are covered by ice-rich silts that are penetrated by large ice wedges, resulting from syngenetic sedimentation and freezing. Accompanied by wedge-ice growth, the sedimentation process was driven by cold continental climatic and environmental conditions in unglaciated regions during the late Pleistocene, inducing the accumulation of the unique Yedoma permafrost deposits up to 50 meter thick. Because of fast incorporation of organic material into permafrost during formation, Yedoma deposits include low-decomposed organic matter. Moreover, ice-rich permafrost deposits like Yedoma are especially prone to degradation triggered by climate changes or human activity. When Yedoma deposits degrade, large amounts of sequestered organic carbon as well as other nutrients are released and become part of active biogeochemical cycling. This could be of global significance for the climate warming, as increased permafrost thaw is likely to cause a positive feedback loop. Therefore, a detailed assessment of the Yedoma deposit volume is of importance to estimate its potential future climate response. Moreover, as a step beyond the objectives of this synthesis study, our coverage (see figure for the Yedoma domain) and thickness estimation will provide critical data to refine the Yedoma permafrost organic carbon inventory, which is assumed to have freeze-locked between 83±12 and 129±30 gigatonnes (Gt) of organic carbon. Hence, we here synthesize data on the circum-Arctic and sub-Arctic distribution and thickness of Yedoma permafrost (see figure for the Yedoma domain) in the framework of an Action Group funded by the International Permafrost Association (IPA). The quantification of the Yedoma coverage is conducted by the digitization of geomorphological and Quaternary geological maps. Further data on Yedoma thickness is contributed from boreholes and exposures reported in the scientific literature.

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Conference (Poster)
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Not peer-reviewed
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AGU Fall Meeting, 14 Dec 2015 - 18 Dec 2015, San Francisco, USA.
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Strauss, J. , Fedorov, A. N. , Fortier, D. , Froese, D. , Fuchs, M. , Grosse, G. , Günther, F. , Harden, J. W. , Hugelius, G. , Kanevskiy, M. , Kholodov, A. L. , Kunitsky, V. V. , Laboor, S. , Lapointe-Elmrabti, L. , Rivkina, E. , Robinson, J. , Schirrmeister, L. , Shmelev, D. , Shur, Y. , Spektor, V. V. , Ulrich, M. , Veremeeva, A. , Walter Anthony, K. M. and Zimov, S. (2015): Ice-Rich Yedoma Permafrost: A Synthesis of Circum-Arctic Distribution and Thickness , AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, USA, 14 December 2015 - 18 December 2015 .


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