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Impacts of Changing Climate on Arctic Shelf Hydrogeology

Project description

How climate change affects permafrost integrity

Climate change is causing the Arctic to warm rapidly. In turn, the thawing of carbon-rich permafrost amplifies global warming and contributes to climate change. This disastrous cycle is having a serious impact on the Arctic shelves, which are critical regions in terms of fluid dynamics due to high organic matter and groundwater fluxes, thin permafrost and shallow gas hydrate stability zones. Predictive modelling of the Arctic subsurface is crucial. The EU-funded WarmArctic project will develop a systematic process-level understanding of how climate change affects permafrost integrity, ice layer distribution, sub-permafrost groundwater and gas hydrate dynamics. The project will develop models and methods and test them on the fjords of Svalbard in the high Arctic.

Objective

Rapidly thawing Arctic permafrost is an important, but poorly constrained, contributor to global carbon budgets and an unknown in the climate change equation. Arctic shelves are critical regions in terms of fluid dynamics due to high organic matter and groundwater fluxes, thin permafrost, and shallow gas hydrate stability zones. Predictive modelling of the Arctic subsurface is challenging due to highly transient multi-physics processes and data-acquisition constraints (related to harsh climate and remote terrains), which lead to critical data sparsity and high uncertainties. Using advanced computational methods, we aim to develop a systematic 'process-level' understanding of how climate-change related warming along Arctic shelves impacts permafrost integrity, ice-layer distribution, sub-permafrost groundwater, and gas and gas hydrate dynamics. We also aim to understand how these processes influence seafloor morphologies (e.g. pingos, pockmarks), which can provide useful proxies for linking (easier to access) seafloor observations with underlying (data-sparse) sub-seafloor processes. Our models and methods will be developed in a highly generalized framework which, within this project, will be specifically applied to study climate change impacts on the fjords of Svalbard in the high Arctic. Beneficiary of this funding will be University of Malta, where the applicant (a mathematician) will receive training in seafloor data acquisition, processing and interpretation, and practical aspects of continental shelf geomorphology and hydrogeology, which will empower her to make meaningful and judicial use of data in her modelling studies. The project goals align with UN Sustainable Development Goal on Climate Action, and our findings will have high scientific and socio-economic impacts by bridging key knowledge gaps and offering comprehensive predictive framework to government agencies, NGOs, and commercial entities for assessment of warming-related risks in the Arctics.

Coordinator

UNIVERSITA TA MALTA
Net EU contribution
€ 177 251,52
Address
TAL OROQQ
2080 MSIDA
Malta

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Region
Malta Malta Malta
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
No data