Shrub expansion in the Arctic has accelerated permafrost thawing

TSU laboratory BioGeoClim scientists are continuing to study high vegetation biological productivity in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation. This year the scientists investigated places tundra was invaded by actively growing shrubs. Temperature analysis showed that shrub-covered land becomes dryer and warmer, and the active layer increases three or four times. The research is supported by a grant from the Russian Science Fund.

“In recent years scientists frequently say that under the influence of global heating the Arctic is becoming greener. We often observe this phenomenon during expeditions,” says Sergey Loiko, project manager, a staff member of the TSU BioGeoClim Laboratory. “For example, the south of the tundra in the YaNAO is witnessing an expansion of shrubs, mainly alder. Usually, they settle on the places with frost heaving, where the pressure created by the soil freezing causes an eruption of clay soils. Alder actively settles in anthropogenically-altered places like abandoned deer herders’ camps and winter roads.”

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