6.3 In collaboration with efforts described under the Terrestrial Ecosystems Goal, continue to improve integration of empirically measured permafrost processes into models that predict how climate change, hydrology, ecosystem shifts and disturbances interact within terrestrial and freshwater aquatic systems to impact permafrost evolution, degradation, and feedbacks from local landscapes to the circum-Arctic.

The ability to estimate circumpolar impacts of permafrost thaw and to predict changes to ecosystem structure and function across regions is central to predicting global change. At present, the ability to estimate these impacts is severely hampered by limitations in modeling and scaling capabilities for permafrost processes across diverse landscapes. The complex, multi-factorial nature of permafrost processes within the context of ecosystems drives the need for linking empirical measurements with model functions and parameters to benchmark the models. Improved predictive accuracy and understanding of permafrost/ecosystem process dynamics will directly enhance the ability to predict global climate shifts and anticipated shifts in ecosystem structure and function from local to continental scales.

Performance elements from the Arctic research plan

  • 6.3.1 Conduct field-based research and monitoring needed to improve understanding of the linkages between key terrestrial ecosystem processes and permafrost properties and to incorporate empirical information into modeling efforts at various scales.
  • 6.3.2 Carry out research to quantify and integrate across scales, the effects of warming permafrost on ecosystem processing related with disturbance regimes, including fire, thermokarst, and landscape changes.
  • 6.3.3 Facilitate and harmonize the production of key geospatial datasets from extensive field measurements, remotely-sensed, and other data sources needed for model initialization, calibration, and validation. Organize and host workshops to enable this activity across agencies engaged in data development with attention to data congruity and scalability.
  • 6.3.4 Support continued development of robust modeling tools and approaches to integrate models of ecosystem processes at various scales since permafrost dynamics are integral to these processes and vice-versa.

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