University of Oulu

Ran, Y., Cheng, G., Dong, Y. et al. Permafrost degradation increases risk and large future costs of infrastructure on the Third Pole. Commun Earth Environ 3, 238 (2022).

Permafrost degradation increases risk and large future costs of infrastructure on the Third Pole

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Author: Ran, Youhua1; Cheng, Guodong1,2; Dong, Yuanhong3;
Organizations: 1Heihe Remote Sensing Experimental Research Station, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, 730000, China
2State Key Laboratory of Tibetan Plateau Earth System, Resources and Environment, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China
3State Key Laboratory of Road Engineering Safety and Health in Cold and High-Altitude Regions, CCCC First Highway Consultants Co., LTD, Xi’an, 710075, China
4Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 8000, FI-90014, Oulu, Finland
5Center for Arctic Policy Studies, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 99775, Fairbanks, AK, USA
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-06-20


The damage to infrastructure caused by near-surface permafrost degradation is directly related to the well-being of 10 million people and the sustainable development on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the Third Pole of the Earth. Here we identify the economic damage caused by permafrost degradation to infrastructure on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau by integrating data-driven projection, multihazard index, and lifespan replacement model. We found that additional cost of approximately $6.31 billion will be needed to maintain the service function of current infrastructure under the historical scenario (SSP245) by 2090. While 20.9% of these potential costs can be saved with strategic adaptations. Controlling global warming to below 1.5 °C will reduce the costs by $1.32 billion relative to the 2 °C target of Paris Agreement. These findings highlight the importance of mitigating global warming and of investment in the adaptation and maintenance of infrastructure on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which has a sparse population but is a climate hotspot.

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Series: Communications earth & environment
ISSN: 2662-4435
ISSN-E: 2662-4435
ISSN-L: 2662-4435
Volume: 3
Issue: 1
Article number: 238
DOI: 10.1038/s43247-022-00568-6
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 519 Social and economic geography
1172 Environmental sciences
Funding: This study was jointly supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (grant number XDA19070204) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China projects (grant numbers 42071421). JH received funding from the Academy of Finland (grant number 315519).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 315519
Detailed Information: 315519 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
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