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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  2. Rapid Arctic warming is expected to result in widespread permafrost degradation. However, observations show that site-specific conditions (vegetation and soils) may offset the reaction of permafrost to climate change. This paper summarizes 43 years of interannual seasonal thaw observations from tundra landscapes surrounding the Marre-Sale on the west coast of the Yamal Peninsula, northwest Siberia. This robust dataset includes landscape-specific climate, active layer thickness, soil moisture, and vegetation observations at multiple scales. Long-term trends from these hierarchically scaled observations indicate that drained landscapes exhibit the most pronounced responses to changing climatic conditions, while moist and wet tundra landscapes exhibit decreasing active layer thickness, and river floodplain landscapes do not show changes in the active layer. The slow increase in seasonal thaw depth despite significant warming observed over the last four decades on the Yamal Peninsula can be explained by thickening moss covers and ground surface subsidence as the transient layer (ice-rich upper permafrost soil horizon) thaws and compacts. The uneven proliferation of specific vegetation communities, primarily mosses, is significantly contributing to spatial variability observed in active layer dynamics. Based on these findings, we recommend that regional permafrost assessments employ a mean landscape-scale active layer thickness that weights the proportions of different landscape types. 
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  3. Abstract Climate change has adverse impacts on Arctic natural ecosystems and threatens northern communities by disrupting subsistence practices, limiting accessibility, and putting built infrastructure at risk. In this paper, we analyze spatial patterns of permafrost degradation and associated risks to built infrastructure due to loss of bearing capacity and thaw subsidence in permafrost regions of the Arctic. Using a subset of three Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 6 models under SSP245 and 585 scenarios we estimated changes in permafrost bearing capacity and ground subsidence between two reference decades: 2015–2024 and 2055–2064. Using publicly available infrastructure databases we identified roads, railways, airport runways, and buildings at risk of permafrost degradation and estimated country-specific costs associated with damage to infrastructure. The results show that under the SSP245 scenario 29% of roads, 23% of railroads, and 11% of buildings will be affected by permafrost degradation, costing $182 billion to the Arctic states by mid-century. Under the SSP585 scenario, 44% of roads, 34% of railroads, and 17% of buildings will be affected with estimated cost of $276 billion, with airport runways adding an additional $0.5 billion. Russia is expected to have the highest burden of costs, ranging from $115 to $169 billion depending on the scenario. Limiting global greenhouse gas emissions has the potential to significantly decrease the costs of projected damages in Arctic countries, especially in Russia. The approach presented in this study underscores the substantial impacts of climate change on infrastructure and can assist to develop adaptation and mitigation strategies in Arctic states. 
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  4. This paper provides information on active layer thickness (ALT) dynamics, or seasonal thawing above permafrost, from a Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring (CALM) site near the city of Norilsk on the Taimyr Peninsula (north-central Siberia) and the influences of meteorological and landscape properties on these dynamics under a warming climate, from 2005 to 2020. The average ALT in loamy soils at this 1 ha CALM site over the past 16 years was 96 cm, higher than previous studies from 1980s conducted at the same location, which estimated ALT to be 80 cm. Increasing mean annual air temperatures in Norilsk correspond with the average ALT increasing trend of 1 cm/year for the observation period. Active layer development depends on summer thermal and precipitation regimes, time of snowmelt, micro-landscape conditions, the cryogenic structure (ice content) of soils, soil water content leading up to the freezing period, drainage, and other factors. Differences in ALT, within various micro landscape conditions can reach 200% in each of the observation periods. 
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  5. Russian permafrost regions are unparalleled in extent, history of development, population presence, and the scale of economic activities. This special issue, «Permafrost Regions in Transition», provides a timely opportunity to (a) examine major issues associated with changing permafrost conditions in natural environments and areas of economic development; (b) present insights into new methods of permafrost investigations; and (c) describe new opportunities and risks threatening sustainable development of Arctic populations and industrial centers in Russia. The issue begins with papers focused on methods of permafrost research, followed by papers focused on examining changes in permafrost under natural conditions, and in Arctic settlements. The last two papers examine potential impacts of permafrost degradation on the Russian economy and potential health implications. 
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  6. Scientific cooperation is a well-supported narrative and theme, but in reality, presents many challenges and counter-productive difficulties. Moreover, data sharing specifically represents one of the more critical cooperation requirements, as part of the “scientific method [which] allows for verification of results and extending research from prior results.” One of the important pieces of the climate change puzzle is permafrost. Currently, most permafrost data remain fragmented and restricted to national authorities, including scientific institutes. Important datasets reside in various government or university labs, where they remain largely unknown or where access restrictions prevent effective use. A lack of shared research—especially data—significantly reduces effectiveness of understanding permafrost overall. Whereas it is not possible for a nation to effectively conduct the variety of modeling and research needed to comprehensively understand impacts to permafrost, a global community can. However, decision and policy makers, especially on the international stage, struggle to understand how best to anticipate and prepare for changes, and thus support for scientific recommendations during policy development. This article explores the global data systems on permafrost, which remain sporadic, rarely updated, and with almost nothing about the subsea permafrost publicly available. The authors suggest that the global permafrost monitoring system should be real time (within technical and reasonable possibility), often updated and with open access to the data. Following a brief background, this article will offer three supporting themes, 1) the current state of permafrost data, 2) rationale and methods to share data, and 3) implications for global and national interests. 
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  7. null (Ed.)
    While the world continues to work toward an understanding and projections of climate change impacts, the Arctic increasingly becomes a critical component as a bellwether region. Scientific cooperation is a well-supported narrative and theme in general, but in reality, presents many challenges and counter-productive difficulties. Moreover, data sharing specifically represents one of the more critical cooperation requirements, as part of the “scientific method [which] allows for verification of results and extending research from prior results”. One of the important pieces of the climate change puzzle is permafrost. In general, observational data on permafrost characteristics are limited. Currently, most permafrost data remain fragmented and restricted to national authorities, including scientific institutes. The preponderance of permafrost data is not available openly—important datasets reside in various government or university labs, where they remain largely unknown or where access restrictions prevent effective use. Although highly authoritative, separate data efforts involving creation and management result in a very incomplete picture of the state of permafrost as well as what to possibly anticipate. While nations maintain excellent individual permafrost research programs, a lack of shared research—especially data—significantly reduces effectiveness of understanding permafrost overall. Different nations resource and employ various approaches to studying permafrost, including the growing complexity of scientific modeling. Some are more effective than others and some achieve different purposes than others. Whereas it is not possible for a nation to effectively conduct the variety of modeling and research needed to comprehensively understand impacts to permafrost, a global community can. In some ways, separate scientific communities are not necessarily concerned about sharing data—their work is secured. However, decision and policy makers, especially on the international stage, struggle to understand how best to anticipate and prepare for changes, and thus support for scientific recommendations during policy development. To date, there is a lack of research exploring the need to share circumpolar permafrost data. This article will explore the global data systems on permafrost, which remain sporadic, rarely updated, and with almost nothing about the subsea permafrost publicly available. The authors suggest that the global permafrost monitoring system should be real time (within technical and reasonable possibility), often updated and with open access to the data (general way of representing data required). Additionally, it will require robust co-ordination in terms of accessibility, funding, and protocols to avoid either duplication and/or information sharing. Following a brief background, this article will offer three supporting themes, (1) the current state of permafrost data, (2) rationale and methods to share data, and (3) implications for global and national interests. 
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