The physical and chemical characteristics of surficial deposits and the floral and faunal remains they contain provide information that is useful for interpreting both paleoclimatic and past permafrost conditions. Surficial deposits thus provide a record of climatic change and permafrost history. This record suggests that initiation of permafrost in lowland areas of the Southern Arctic Archipelago and continents of the northern hemisphere may have occurred about 2,400,000 years ago during the pronounced cooling that led to the first major glaciation of late Cenozoic time. Since then, climate has been relatively cold but cyclically variable, characterized by the growth and shrinkage of large, continental ice sheets. Permafrost has expanded and contracted in response to these climatic changes, and we can expect the present permafrost conditions to change in response to future climatic changes. To predict the response of permafrost and the landscape to future climatic change we should: (1) Define relations between climate and the modern landscape; (2) establish long-term records of past climatic change and landscape response; and (3) determine the paleoenvironments of past warm periods as possible analogs for future global warming.
Additional publication details
Climatic change and permafrost. Record from surficial deposits