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What is permafrost and what processes occur in these conditions?

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Permafrost is a thick layer of soil that remains frozen year-round, typically found in polar regions and high mountain areas. In permafrost conditions, several processes occur, including:

  1. Freezing and thawing: The soil freezes and thaws seasonally, leading to expansion and contraction of the ground.
  2. Frost heave: When water in the soil freezes, it can push the soil particles upwards, causing disturbances on the surface.
  3. Cryoturbation: The mixing of soil layers due to freeze-thaw cycles and the expansion of ice lenses within the soil.
  4. Carbon release: Permafrost contains organic matter that can decompose when exposed to warmer temperatures, releasing greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide. These processes in permafrost conditions can have significant impacts on the landscape, ecosystems, and climate.