Can permafrost erosion and arctic ice loss be measured like any other natural disaster?

Can permafrost erosion and arctic ice loss be measured like any other natural disaster?

Are there threat scales for permafrost and arctic ice loss that could threaten infrastructure on land and shipping in the arctic waters?

I look forward to your feedback

Measured? Yes.

As for related ice loss to disaster, I don’t think there is any scale.

And, as and aside, please change or delete your signature. It’s astonishingly annoying.

Moderator Note

First, he doesn’t have a signature. (It’s a manual sign-off, not automatic.) Second, let’s not junior mod in General Questions.

General Questions Moderator

While arctic ice loss is devastating from an ecological point of view, from a shipping point of view, it is definitely not a disaster. Quite the opposite. As the arctic ice recedes, shipping lanes open up that allow merchant ships to travel through the arctic without relying on large icebreakers to clear a path for them.

Experts predict that if the current trends continue, a lot of shipping will shift from their current routes to routes that pass through the arctic ocean.

Short answer: Yes. It is being tracked and measured both from satellites and oddly enough, by student-developed unmanned aircraft from the University of Kansas (KU). Who knew that a lot of CReSIS’* work was done out of the little town of Lawrence Kansas? They also develop the flight controls software and field similar UAVs provided by NASA.

I’ve actually gotten to work with these kids in the past – they had some diesel powered UAVS as large as Cessnas. Their UAVs have been deployed in both Antarctica and Greenland to date.
*Center for the Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets.

“Measured like any other natural disaster” is a bit vague. Some natural disasters have relatively basic repeatable characteristics that can be measured and relate strongly to the effect they have, and so we have designed scales for them. Hurricanes and Earthquakes are the only ones I can think of though, and there’s been a lot of discussion recently of how the Hurricane scale is becoming less useful as other factors than wind speed were responsible for the extent of damage in Houston and in the Carolinas.

Other natural disasters are measured and characterized based on their likelihood, which doesn’t necessarily tell you much about their effect, although there is a correlation between the extent of damage and whether there is a 50-years flood, 100-years flood or 200-years flood.

Arctic ice loss and permafrost erosion lends itself to neither of these approaches, but as already mentioned we can of course quantify it and monitor it. But I’m not sure if that is what the OP intended to ask about.

Thanks Naita. What I am trying to find out is if there is a risk scale of some kind. Just as there would be for a fire or mudslide. Permafrost erosions is a risk to infrastructure and trees and hence to people. Ice bergs are no doubt a risk to ships not fitted out for that kind of hazard.

Some discussion of how permafrost problems are causing problems for housing in Arctic cities: