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Permafrost is warming worldwide, says new study

Permafrost is also warming in Switzerland. Keystone

The temperature of permafrost has risen in the last ten years across the world, says a new international study with Swiss participation.

This content was published on January 16, 2019 - 18:53
swissinfo.ch/jc

Between 2007 and 2016, the average rise in permafrost temperature was 0.3 degrees Celsius, according to a comparative analysis by the Global Terrestrial Network for PermafrostExternal link, published on Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature Communications. That is the case in the Arctic, Antarctic and high mountains of Europe and Asia. 

Researchers from 26 countries, including scientists from Switzerland’s Institute for Snow and Avalanche ResearchExternal link (SLF), analyzed permafrost temperatures from over 154 boreholes in a variety of regions. Temperatures were measured at over 10 metres depth in the ground, where seasonal fluctuations are minimal and temperature changes indicate long-term trends, according to SLF. The rise in permafrost temperature is attributed to climate warming. 

The study was led by Alfred-Wegener-Institute for polar research in Potsdam, Germany. Also participating was the Swiss permafrost monitoring network PERMOSExternal link. For twenty years, PERMOS has been documenting the state and changes of mountain permafrost in the Swiss Alps. This has also warmed, particularly in the last decade, although the extent of warming differs from place to place. 

The warming of mountain permafrost can impair the stability of buildings in high alpine regions and of steep mountain slopes.

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