Monitoring permafrost degradation rates due to climate change : developing a practical GIS-based method
Adams, Austin Allen
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Subjectair photo monitoring; climate change; collapse scars; landscape diversity indices; peatlands; permafrost degradation
Peatlands in the Alberta boreal forest are predicted to experience early and severe climate change impacts through permafrost degradation (melting). Permafrost loss and the subsequent release of greenhouse gases are predicted to have significant global climate change implications. This study provides visual and quantifiable evidence that climate change is impacting Canada by developing an objective, cost-effective method to monitor peatland permafrost degradation in the Alberta boreal forest. Peatland landscape pattern shifts resulting from permafrost melting over time were correlated to changes in local ClimateWNA climate variables using GIS. Landscape diversity indices of these shifts were calculated from grey-scale pixel tones of historical Alberta air photos and correlated with climate and geographical variables, using the SPSS Linear Mixed Model with repeated measures. Resulting models that combine date, temperature, precipitation and latitude variables were determined to be most appropriate for communicating climate change impacts in Alberta permafrost peatlands to decision makers.
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