Permafrost degradation at two monitored palsa mires in north-west Finland

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A1 Alkuperäisartikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä
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CRYOSPHERE, Volume 17, issue 5
Palsas and peat plateaus are expected to disappear from many regions, including Finnish Lapland. However, detailed long-Term monitoring data of the degradation process on palsas are scarce. Here, we present the results of the aerial photography time series analysis (1959-2021), annual real-Time kinematic (RTK) GNSS and active layer monitoring (2007-2021), and annual unoccupied aerial system surveys (2016-2021) at two palsa sites (Peera and Laassaniemi, 68gN) located in north-west Finland. We analysed temporal trends of palsa degradation and their relation to climate using linear regression. At both sites, the decrease in palsa area by-77g€¯% to-90g€¯% since 1959 and height by-16g€¯% to-49g€¯% since 2007 indicate substantial permafrost degradation throughout the study periods. The area loss rates are mainly connected to winter air temperature changes at Peera and winter precipitation changes at Laassaniemi. The active layer thickness (ALT) has varied annually between 2007 and 2021 with no significant trend and is related mainly to the number of very warm days during summer, autumn rainfall of previous year, and snow depths at Peera. At Laassaniemi, the ALT is weakly related to climate and has been decreasing in the middle part of the palsa during the past 8 years despite the continuous decrease in palsa volume. Our findings imply that the ALT in the inner parts of palsas do not necessarily reflect the overall permafrost conditions and underline the importance of surface position monitoring alongside the active layer measurements. The results also showed a negative relationship between the ALT and snow cover onset, indicating the complexity of climate-permafrost feedbacks in palsa mires.
Funding Information: This research has been supported by the Vilho, Yrjö and Kalle Väisälä Foundation of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (grant no. 869471), the Academy of Finland (grant no. 330319, 338480, and 346602), and the Erasmus+ staff mobility programme. Publisher Copyright: © Author(s) 2023.
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Verdonen, M, Störmer, A, Lotsari, E, Korpelainen, P, Burkhard, B, Colpaert, A & Kumpula, T 2023, ' Permafrost degradation at two monitored palsa mires in north-west Finland ', CRYOSPHERE, vol. 17, no. 5, pp. 1803-1819 .