The overall scientific objective of THAW is to improve understanding of the vulnerability of Arctic permafrost regions to climate change, and to estimate the implications of permafrost changes on global greenhouse gas concentrations and future climate. The project will reduce the uncertainty about the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions from both land and sub-sea permafrost in the 21 century. This cross-cutting scientific issue requires a broad multi-disciplinary consortium that combines knowledge from diverse scientific fields. THAW brings together a powerful collaboration of 27 partner organizations from Europe and Russia in addition to strong links to 15 non-contracting partners, mainly from the US and Canada. A priority of the THAW consortium is to enhance collaboration between terrestrial, ocean and atmospheric scientists to achieve major advances in understanding of Arctic permafrost-climate interactions and their future global implications.
THAW integrates studies of a) Land permafrost thermal dynamics and its sensitivity to climate change, b) Methane release from sub-sea permafrost and its exchange with the atmosphere, c) Processes and dynamics of Arctic terrestrial greenhouse gas pools, d) Emissions of CO2, CH4 and N2O from permafrost regions and implications for atmospheric composition, e) Characterization of historic changes in permafrost land surfaces and f) Climate modelling to predict the influence of permafrost changes on future climate change. THAW includes studies of climate thresholds that may lead to dramatic permafrost changes and their global implications. It also has a special focus on improved predictions of future Arctic CH4 emissions; because CH4 might have severe consequences, an improved knowledge is essential for policy makers to develop mitigation strategies. A strong focus will also be put on training of students by THAW scientists and on disseminating project results to the public, policy makers and the broad scientific community.