Focus Climate Initiative - APT project seeks to increase understanding of permafrost thaw

  • 16.10.2014

Under the Climate Initiative, the BNP Paribas Foundation’s support programme for climate change research, a further five scientific projects run by laboratories of international stature were selected this year for Foundation support. Now, until 7 November you have the opportunity to vote for your favourite project from among these five. The project team that garners the most votes will receive an additional grant of €50,000 for the purpose of promoting and highlighting their research work among the general public. Each week, find out more about one project of the Climate Initiative.

APT: Acceleration of Permafrost Thaw by Snow-Vegetation Interactions

Global warming is causing the permafrost – areas of soil or rock that remain frozen all year round – to melt, unlocking the trapped carbon. It is estimated that this phenomenon might release twice the amount of CO2 equivalent that the atmosphere currently contains, thus seriously affecting the local environment of the Inuit people and having a potentially devastating impact on the planet as a whole.

>> Watch the project's film:

If the APT team obtain the most votes, what are they planning to do with the extra financial grant?

Useful science, participatory science

The issue of the thawing permafrost affects the whole world, but most particularly the Inuit people, whose habitat, food supplies and indeed entire lifestyle are likely to be completely overturned. The APT project team intend to include the Inuit community as a stakeholder in the project. Among other things, the school in the Inuit village of Umiujaq in Nunavik will be equipped with tools to enable students to gather data on ground temperature and snow density. This valuable work will help the researchers, who cannot be ‘on the spot’ at all times. In addition, a website is being set up to enable students to share the data collected and help the Inuit communities to adapt to climate change.

Main laboratories involved: Takuvik Laboratory at Laval University in Quebec, supported by the French National Scientific Research Centre (CNRS); the Atmospheric Meteorology research group based at the French National Centre for Meteorological Research (CNRM-GAME), in conjunction with France’s national meteorological office Météo France and the CNRS; the Glaciology and Environmental Geophysics Laboratory (LGGE), under the joint aegis of Joseph Fourier University and the CNRS.