Projected ground temperature through the 21st century
Projections indicate that ground temperatures will increase across much of the Arctic between now and the end of the 21st century. In Russia, ground temperature increases of 0.6 to 1 centigrades are projected to occur by 2020.
This compares with increases of between 0.5 and 2 centigrades since the mid-1970s. This warming will lead to the thawing and reduced extent of permafrost.
As permafrost thaws, the active layer - the top soil layer above the permafrost that thaws each summer - becomes thicker. This makes land more vulnerable to becoming degraded or permanently drying out.
Regional climate models suggest that by 2100, the top two to three metres of permafrost will have thawed over 16-20% of the area that currently has permafrost in Canada. Permafrost is expected to have degraded (either thawed or partially thawed) over 57% of the area of Alaska.