(Un)frozen in Time

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Science  14 Mar 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5613, pp. 1673-1675
DOI: 10.1126/science.1081111

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Permafrost regions occupy nearly a quarter of Earth's terrestrial surface. The extent of subarctic permafrost has been reduced significantly during the past century, leading to widespread subsidence and damage to roads and buildings. In his Perspective, Nelson reports from a recent meeting on permafrost and its roles in environmental change. He concludes that one of the greatest challenges in the field is to separate climate-induced impacts from local anthropogenic influences. This challenge can only be met with more detailed and extensive data records.