Permafrost-a form of ice that covers almost 25% of northern hemisphere land-is melting, due to warming air temperatures. Loss of permafrost affects local ecology and hydrology (underground water systems), as well as coastal and soil stability. The permafrost melt will eventually uncover stores of frozen carbon; some of this carbon will escape the earth as methane and increase the global greenhouse effect. IPY researchers will focus on changes in the Arctic's hydrological systems, vegetation, and wildlife populations in an effort to understand what these changes mean to all the living things that call the Arctic home.



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