Forest fires accelerate melting of permafrost

Fires in the last 30 years could account for almost one-quarter of the permafrost melt observed in peatlands in Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

According to a study by the University of Alberta, fires have also tripled the rate of sudden melts of permafrost, which are often considered irreversible.

Our climate is getting too hot. These ecosystems are somehow transformed definitively.

Carolyn Gibson, permafrost researcher

Researcher Carolyn Gibson, the lead author of Nature Communications , is now studying PhD at the University of Guelph.

She has been involved in peatland research in northern Alberta and the Fort Simpson area of ​​the Northwest Territories for her MA at the University of Alberta.

Other researchers and she conclude that the effect of wildfires spans several years and that permafrost continues to degrade, even if trees grow back.

Melting permafrost releases significant amounts of carbon, which contributes to climate change.

The soil is also becoming more unstable, which degrades roads and causes cracks in buildings, explains Carolyn Gibson. Caribou habitat is also expected to shrink.

Better understanding the melting of permafrost will make better decisions for building infrastructure and thinking about strategies to adapt, the researcher hopes.

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