Just how much permafrost is there?

The extent and type of Russian permafrost
The extent and type of Russian permafrost

Permafrost covers 24% of the Earth’s northern hemisphere land surface, but how much is that? Well 24% corresponds to 23,000,000 km2. That is a pretty big number, and doesn’t even count the subsea permafrost that covers lots of the Arctic Shelf (see the map above) so here are a few comparisons and measurements in less standard units.

Great Britain compared to the Russian permafrost area.
Great Britain compared to the Russian permafrost area.

Firstly, let’s compare the permafrost area to some other countries and continents. Here is Britain in comparison, at 243,000 km2 it is almost inconsequential. Only one tenth of the northern hemisphere permafrost. Going up the scale Australia, with an area of 7,700,000 km2, is one third of the northern hemisphere permafrost, and roughly the same size as the 7,400,000 km2 that continuous and discontinuous permafrost represent in Siberia alone.

The land area of Australia compared to the Siberian permafrost
The land area of Australia compared to the Siberian permafrost

The maps above use data from the National Snow and Ice Data Centre

PDF versions are also available. Map1, Map2, Map3.

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