Sinking seawall in Shishmaref in N. Alaska (photo: Lawrence Hislop - Aquatic ecosystems Workshop (THAW) is taking place in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

THAW 2014 is endorsed by the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), the International Permafrost Association (IPA) and the Climate and Cryosphere program (CliC), and it is an activity within the IASC/CliC/AMAP Freshwater Synthesis.

Permafrost systems are attracting considerable interest at present given the accelerated warming of the Arctic and its associated effects on thermokarst processes, peat erosion and water balance.

These phenomena may affect biogeochemical pathways, including those controlling greenhouse gas fluxes and the export of dissolved and particulate materials to downstream river and coastal waters.

Although many scientific events have been organized to share information on permafrost degradation and its associated carbon dynamics, few have focused specifically on aquatic ecosystems, and there has been little attention to date given to the strikingly diverse and changing limnology of these systems, including their geomorphological dynamics, hydrological properties, hydrogeochemistry, microbiology, food web structure and regional differences.

More knowledge about each of these aspects is needed for a full understanding of their importance as ecological oases in the tundra, biogeochemical reaction sites and gas conduits to the atmosphere, and to predict their responses to the rapidly changing northern climate.

THAW 2014 will bring together researchers from these different disciplines to share their knowledge about freshwater systems in permafrost landscapes, and to plan for future collaborative research, data exchange and synthesis.

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