Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Global Warming Could Thaw Far More Permafrost Than Expected

By Garry Rogers @Garry_Rogers

GR: Here’s your daily dose of bad news for climate change. This study doesn’t consider the effect of the increased permafrost thaw. However, we know that thawed permafrost releases methane and other gasses. Expect new global-warming projections soon. (Link to recent post concerned with extent of permafrost thaw.)

Global Warming Could Thaw Far More Permafrost Than Expected

Thawing permafrost has communities like Newtok, Alaska literally losing the ground under their feet. Credit: Getty Images

“More than 40 percent of the world’s permafrost—landscape covered in frozen soil—is at risk of thawing even if the world succeeds in limiting global warming to the international goal of 2 degrees Celsius, according to a new study.

“Currently, permafrost covers about nearly 5.8 million square miles, and scientists found as much as 2.5 million square miles of that could thaw—about twice the area of Alaska, California and Texas combined—in a 2 degree Celsius scenario. Thawing would be more limited if warming can be held to 1.5 degrees Celsius, but could still affect 1.8 million square miles.

“The new research was published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

“Permafrost contains vast amounts of carbon in the form of plants that died since the last ice age and have remained frozen rather than decomposing. When permafrost thaws, this long-trapped carbon is released into the atmosphere, further propelling future warming. A 2015 study estimated that the thawing permafrost could release up to 92 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere by the century’s end.

“This new study did not estimate the greenhouse gas emissions that would be released from the thawing, or how those emissions could then spur greater rates of permafrost loss in a vicious cycle. Instead, the international team of scientists focused on how warming air temperatures would affect the extent of permafrost. They said their calculations suggest a much more extensive loss than previously thought.” –Zahra Hirji (Continue: Global Warming Could Thaw Far More Permafrost Than Expected, Study Says | InsideClimate News.)


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