The permafrost regions of the planet are remote, barren and isolated; as far as the decision makers are concerned, these inhospitable regions are simply "out of sight, out of mind", having no immediate effect on the global environment and habitat. Those who are pioneering the study of the permafrost, however, know better, as they confront the sustainable development of these peculiarly resource-rich regions. It rapidly became evident that social survival was not merely a matter of technology, and sustainable development involved more than just bringing in adequate machinery. Operating in permafrost regions necessitates a thorough understanding of all aspects of their ecology. This work on permafrost discusses the topic in terms of geology, biology, chemistry, physics, climatology, engineering, land development, environmental management, social and economic impacts. Topics discussed include on- and offs-hore data assessment, past and future permafrost evolution according to global climate change, engineering effects on permafrost, and new dimensions in geocryology, including gas hydrates, microbiology, and information technology.
Part I International assessment of existing on-shore and off-shore data. Part II Scenarios of past and future permafrost evolution: permafrost evolution in the past; scenarios of global climate changes and permafrost dynamics. Part III Engineering effects on permafrost and assessment. Part IV New dimensions in geocryology: gas hydrates; permafrost as a microbiological habitat; informatics in geocryology. Part V Panel discussions: conclusive reports and recommendations of the plenary session.
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