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Permafrost methane

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Russia: Pleistocene Park Born to Rewild to protect the steppe Regenerative Projects. When permafrost melts, what happens to all that stored carbon? The Arctic's frozen ground contains large stores of organic carbon that have been locked in the permafrost for thousands of years.

When permafrost melts, what happens to all that stored carbon?

As global temperatures rise, that permafrost is starting to melt, raising concerns about the impact on the climate as organic carbon becomes exposed. A new study is shedding light on what that could mean for the future by providing the first direct physical evidence of a massive release of carbon from permafrost during a warming spike at the end of the last ice age. The study, published this week in the journal Nature Communications, documents how Siberian soil once locked in permafrost was carried into the Arctic Ocean during that period at a rate about seven times higher than today. "We know the Arctic today is under threat because of growing climate warming, but we don't know to what extent permafrost will respond to this warming. Today's Arctic warming is already affecting the chemistry of freshwater rivers in Alaska, recent research suggests.

Thawing Arctic permafrost effects: Methane release, Siberian craters and anthrax. The Arctic permafrost is starting to thaw, releasing the ground from the frozen state it has been in for thousands of years.

Thawing Arctic permafrost effects: Methane release, Siberian craters and anthrax

At present, permafrost in the Northern Hemisphere covers an area spanning some 20 million square kilometres and is home to tens of millions of people. Regions covered include parts of the US, Canada and Russia. But what will happen when it defrosts? Max Holmes, the deputy director and senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Centre, explains: What is permafrost and why is it thawing? Permafrost is permanently frozen ground. What is happening now is the Earth is warming and the Arctic is warming even more and as a result the permafrost is starting to thaw. At what rate is it thawing? It is a bit difficult to gauge as it can be variable. There is also something called an active layer and that is a seasonally thawed layer.

What has permafrost got to do with methane being released? Would the release of CO2 and methane contribute more than current man-made emissions? Permafrost - what is it? Businessinsider.com. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere NASA A key greenhouse gas responsible for warming the planet, carbon dioxide, isn't just hanging around in the air.

businessinsider.com

It's also locked up deep under the ground. In the soil, stocks of carbon have built up over thousands of years, and levels have been kept relatively stable by the slow activity of bacteria which use carbon for energy. Scientists have long speculated over whether global warming could be affecting this process. A new study by Yale University suggests that it is. Losses of soil carbon under global warming might equal U.S. emissions. (© stock.adobe.com) For decades scientists have speculated that rising global temperatures might alter the ability of soils to store carbon, potentially releasing huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and triggering runaway climate change.

Losses of soil carbon under global warming might equal U.S. emissions

Yet thousands of studies worldwide have produced mixed signals on whether this storage capacity will actually decrease — or even increase — as the planet warms. It turns out scientists might have been looking in the wrong places. A new Yale-led study in the journal Nature finds that warming will drive the loss of at least 55 trillion kilograms of carbon from the soil by mid-century, or about 17% more than the projected emissions due to human-related activities during that period.

Scientists have long feared this ‘feedback’ to the climate system. Now they say it’s happening. (iStock) At a time when a huge pulse of uncertainty has been injected into the global project to stop the planet’s warming, scientists have just raised the stakes even further.

Scientists have long feared this ‘feedback’ to the climate system. Now they say it’s happening

In a massive new study published Wednesday in the influential journal Nature, no less than 50 authors from around the world document a so-called climate system “feedback” that, they say, could make global warming considerably worse over the coming decades. That feedback involves the planet’s soils, which are a massive repository of carbon due to the plants and roots that have grown and died in them, in many cases over vast time periods (plants pull in carbon from the air through photosynthesis and use it to fuel their growth). It has long been feared that as warming increases, the microorganisms living in these soils would respond by very naturally upping their rate of respiration, a process that in turn releases carbon dioxide or methane, leading greenhouse gases.