Permafrost | NASA

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About this dataset

In really cold places, the ground can stay frozen all year. If the ground stays frozen at least two years in a row, it is called "permafrost." Different places have different amounts of permafrost. It may only occur in patches, or it may cover a large area. The colors on this map show different amounts of permafrost in areas of the Northern Hemisphere. Widespread melting of permafrost is one sign of global warming.

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What do the colors mean?

Dark blue shows areas where permafrost is continuous (permafrost over 90-100 percent of the ground area). Medium blue shows areas where permafrost is discontinuous, but still abundant (50-90 percent of ground area). Light blue shows sporadic permafrost (10-50 percent of ground area). Palest blue shows where only isolated permafrost exists (0-10 percent of ground area).

Related Websites

Circum-Arctic Map of Permafrost and Ground-Ice Conditions (NSIDC)

National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)

Further Reading

Brown, J., O.J. Ferrians Jr., J.A. Heginbottom, and E.S. Melnikov. 1998. revised February 2001. Circum-Arctic map of permafrost and ground-ice conditions. Boulder, CO: National Snow and Ice Data Center/World Data Center for Glaciology. Digital Media.

Federal Geographic Data Committee Geospatial Metadata

View the FGDC Metatdata for Permafrost

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