Project Profile: PRISMARCTYC

Permafrost degradation impacts on soils, human societies, water resources and carbon cycle


Principal Investigators: Antoine Sejourne, Université Paris Saclay - Geosciences Paris Sud, France
Partners: Lea Cabrol, Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography, France
Maria Cherbunina, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
Urania Christaki, Université du Littoral Côte d'Opale- Laboratoire d'Océanologieet Geosciences, France
Masato Furuya, Hokkaido University, Japan
Laure Gandois, Laboratoire Ecologie Fonctionnelleet Environnement, CNRS DR14, France
Go Iwahana, University of Alaska Fairbanks, United States
Alexandra Lavrillier, Université Paris-Saclay - Observatoire Versailles Saint-Quentin - Cultures Environnement Arctique Representation Climat, France
Lydie Lescarmontier, Office for Climate Education, France
Aleksei Lupachev, Institute of Physico-Chemical and Biological Problems in Soil Sciences - Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
Nikita Tananaev, Melnikov Permafrost Institute- Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
Sponsors: French National Research Agency, France
National Science Foundation, United States
Russian Foundation for Basic Research, Russia


Full Project Title: Permafrost degradation impacts on soils, human societies, water resources and carbon cycle
Full Call Title: Soils2020


Project Objective: The project aims to understand the hydrological, geochemical, geomorphological, microbiological, and socio-economic impacts of permafrost thaw to soils and surface/groundwaters in the Arctic and Subarctic, and their sustainability in the changing climate. The study will focus on the near-surface permafrost-hydro system continuum in small watersheds where localized and rapid thermokarst occurrences remain under studied.

The overall objective of the work is to compare sites in Siberia and Alaska with different permafrost characteristics (ice-rich Yedoma permafrost or carbon-rich permafrost peatland; continuous or discontinuous permafrost), climate-sensitivity, vegetation and degradation types along latitudinal and longitudinal gradients. To accomplish this, the team will study several key small watersheds in Siberia and Alaska. Each study area was chosen based on its representativeness of the region and more importantly for comparative power across a broad range of permafrost, vegetation, and degradation types. The main objective is to analyze the differences and similarities between sites to better understand the variations of impacts. To understand and compare the impacts of permafrost degradation between the different sites, the team has defined several indicators (or ‘sentinels’) of the vulnerability of soils, surface/ground waters: natural and anthropogenic stressors, permafrost conditions and degradation, hydrologic and aquatic chemistry, carbon cycle and microbial communities.
Call Objective: The goal of this CRA is to produce the necessary knowledge and propose solutions to maintain well-functioning soils and groundwater systems in the Critical Zone1, or rehabilitate them where degraded, through:

1. Better understanding of the long- and shorter-time dynamics and functions of soils and groundwater, impacts from societal (including economics) decisions, integrative management practices, public policies, and how these systems have been transformed; and,

2. Providing avenues, pathways, and narratives toward transformation of management practices of the whole soil and groundwater systems through a fundamental shift of socio-economic actors’ practices and related-decisions making processes.


Regions: Asia, North America
Countries: Russian Federation, United States of America (USA)


Duration: 36 months
Call Date: 2020
Project Award Date: 2021