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Permafrost refers to a layer of soil or rock that remains frozen for at least two consecutive years. Found primarily in polar regions such as the Arctic and Antarctic, as well as in alpine regions, permafrost accounts for roughly 24% of the exposed land surface in the Northern Hemisphere. Its organic-rich soil holds significant amounts of carbon, making it a critical element in the Earth's carbon cycle and climate system.

Permafrost can be found beneath a surface layer known as the active layer, which thaws annually in warmer temperatures. The characteristics and depth of this permanently frozen ground can vary widely, reaching depths of over 1,000 meters in some areas. Despite its seemingly static nature, permafrost is highly sensitive to changes in climate, with rising global temperatures posing a serious threat to its stability.

The thawing of permafrost due to climate change has far-reaching implications. As it thaws, it releases greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide, which have been trapped within the frozen ground for millennia. This release further exacerbates global warming in a feedback loop that threatens ecosystems, infrastructure, and communities. Understanding and monitoring permafrost is essential for mitigating its impacts on our environment and adapting to changing climatic conditions.