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UND Geologist takes part in multinational climate change research


A UND geologist participated in lengthy periods of field work in Norway to study the effects of Arctic vegetation on global warming. That work has contributed to a large research project that aims to improve climate modeling in the Arctic, and the impact of warming temperatures elsewhere on the globe.

Over a period of five years until 2021, Jaakko Putkonen, associate professor of geology at UND’s Harold Hamm School of Geology and Geological Engineering, spent months at a time doing field work in the tundra in Spitsbergen, in northern Norway. His goal: studying the effects of the warming climate on permafrost and reindeer.

He found that rain-on-snow events there were warming the permafrost and killing off reindeer, due to the changing nature of the environment. His research highlighted the impact that future increases in rain-on-snow events in the northern hemisphere will threaten northern ungulates—large, hooved mammals.

Putkonen’s research was combined with the research of 64 other international scholars and was published in a paper titled “Vegetation Type is an Important Predictor of the Arctic Summer Land Surface Energy Budget,” by the journal Nature Communications. Lead writers of the paper are from the University of Zurich in Switzerland and McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

Other contributing scholars are from universities in Australia, Germany, Canada, Switzerland and Poland, among others. Several universities in the United States are represented in the research alongside UND.

For more on this story, check out the post on UND Today.