Climate threat from permafrost melt.

After a long absence I return.

I came across an interesting piece of research from the CSIRO on the effects of the melting of the permafrost in the Arctic circle.

New research by the Global Carbon Project at the CSIRO, has found that estimates of the carbon stored in the frozen in soils of the North Pole has been hugely underestimated.

Executive Director Dr Pep Canadell says that

“projections show that almost all near-surface permafrost will disappear by the end of this century exposing large carbon stores to decomposition and release of greenhouse gases. In addition, ‘thermokast lakes’ formed as permafrost thaws, would draw heat to deeper layers and bring methane to the surface.

In fact, models developed in collaboration with Dr Canadell show that global warming could trigger an irreversible process of thawing.

The feedback loop then, that results from the release of carbon and methane triggers a self sustaining degradation that adds to global warming.

This research shows that it could take smaller levels of thawing of the permafrost to initiate this feedback. Dr Canadell gives this example:

“if only 10 per cent of the permafrost melts, the resultant feedback could result in an additional 80 ppm carbon dioxide equivalent released into the atmosphere, equating to about 0.7°C of global warming.”

The imperative then, is that our leading nations  get serious about limiting carbon emissions. There seems to be a lack of political will to make the tough decisions required but this research is just another instance that shows that we must do something soon.

I welcome any comments on what progress is being made in your corner of the planet to curb carbon emissions. Do you think governments are doing enough?  What are you doing that might inspire change?

Photo: Courtesy NOAA



~ by abstraktbiblos on Saturday, 11 July, 2009.

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