Current rates and mechanisms of subsea permafrost degradation in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf

Natalia Shakhova, Igor Semiletov, Orjan Gustafsson, Valentin Sergienko, Leopold Lobkovsky, Oleg Dudarev, Vladimir Tumskoy, Michael Grigoriev, Alexey Mazurov, Anatoly Salyuk, Roman Ananiev, Andrey Koshurnikov, Denis Kosmach, Alexander Charkin, Nicolay Dmitrevsky, Victor Karnaukh, Alexey Gunar, Alexander Meluzov, Denis Chernykh

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40 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The rates of subsea permafrost degradation and occurrence of gas-migration pathways are key factors controlling the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) methane (CH 4) emissions, yet these factors still require assessment. It is thought that after inundation, permafrost-degradation rates would decrease over time and submerged thaw-lake taliks would freeze; therefore, no CH 4 release would occur for millennia. Here we present results of the first comprehensive scientific re-drilling to show that subsea permafrost in the near-shore zone of the ESAS has a downward movement of the ice-bonded permafrost table of ∼ 14 cm year-1 over the past 31-32 years. Our data reveal polygonal thermokarst patterns on the seafloor and gas-migration associated with submerged taliks, ice scouring and pockmarks. Knowing the rate and mechanisms of subsea permafrost degradation is a prerequisite to meaningful predictions of near-future CH 4 release in the Arctic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15872
JournalNature Communications
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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    Shakhova, N., Semiletov, I., Gustafsson, O., Sergienko, V., Lobkovsky, L., Dudarev, O., Tumskoy, V., Grigoriev, M., Mazurov, A., Salyuk, A., Ananiev, R., Koshurnikov, A., Kosmach, D., Charkin, A., Dmitrevsky, N., Karnaukh, V., Gunar, A., Meluzov, A., & Chernykh, D. (2017). Current rates and mechanisms of subsea permafrost degradation in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. Nature Communications, 8, [15872]. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms15872