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Russian awards for Dutch permafrost researchers

Three researchers of VU University Amsterdam have been awarded for their contributions to the research on greenhouse gas emissions in permafrost (permanently frozen ground) in Siberia. Professor Han Dolman received a Medal of Honour from the government of Yakutia. Ko van Huissteden and Michiel van der Molen received a Medal of Honour of the Russian Academy of Sciences. On 12 November they received the awards from Dr. Pavel Remigaylo en Dr. Trofim Maximov of the Russian Research Institute for Biology of Permafrost Ecosystems IBPC in Yakutsk, during an international workshop at Wagningen University.


Thawing permafrost

Measuring greenhouse gas emissions in permafrost is important in order to improve the knowledge of the long-term effects of climate change. In Siberai alone at least a million square kilometres are currently covered by permafrost. These areas usually contain substantial amounts of organic material that has been frozen into the ground over the course of many centuries. Once these areas begin to thaw there will be an effect similar to when you unplug your freezer and the material will begin to decompose very quickly. The process of decomposition releases greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane. Therefore the thawing of permafrost could further reinforce the cycle of global warming.