Ticking Greenhouse Gas Time Bomb: Melting Permafrost | Common Dreams


Ticking Greenhouse Gas Time Bomb: Melting Permafrost | Common Dreams.

Ticking Greenhouse Gas Time Bomb: Melting Permafrost

by Seth Borenstein

WASHINGTON – Massive amounts of greenhouse gases trapped below thawing permafrost will likely seep into the air over the next several decades, accelerating and amplifying global warming, scientists warn.

Those heat-trapping gases under the frozen Arctic ground may be a bigger factor in global warming than the cutting down of forests, and a scenario that climate scientists hadn’t quite accounted for, according to a group of permafrost experts. The gases won’t contribute as much as pollution from power plants, cars, trucks and planes, though.

The permafrost scientists predict that over the next three decades a total of about 45 billion metric tons of carbon from methane and carbon dioxide will seep into the atmosphere when permafrost thaws during summers. That’s about the same amount of heat-trapping gas the world spews during five years of burning coal, gas and other fossil fuels

And the picture is even more alarming for the end of the century. The scientists calculate that about than 300 billion metric tons of carbon will belch from the thawing Earth from now until 2100.

Adding in that gas means that warming would happen „20 to 30 percent faster than from fossil fuel emissions alone,“ said Edward Schuur of the University of Florida. „You are significantly speeding things up by releasing this carbon.“

Usually the first few to several inches of permafrost thaw in the summer, but scientists are now looking at up to 10 feet of soft unfrozen ground because of warmer temperatures, he said. The gases come from decaying plants that have been stuck below frozen ground for millennia.

Schuur and 40 other scientists in the Permafrost Carbon Research Network met this summer and jointly wrote up their findings, which were published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.

„The survey provides an important warning that global climate warming is likely to be worse than expected,“ said Jay Zwally, a NASA polar scientist who wasn’t part of the study. „Arctic permafrost has been like a wild card.“

When the Nobel Prize-winning panel of climate scientists issued its last full report in 2007, it didn’t even factor in trapped methane and carbon dioxide from beneath the permafrost. Diplomats are meeting this week in South Africa to find ways of curbing human-made climate change.

Schuur and others said increasing amounts of greenhouse gas are seeping out of permafrost each year. Some is methane, which is 25 times stronger than carbon dioxide in trapping heat.

In a recent video, University of Alaska Fairbanks professor Katey Walter Anthony, a study co-author, is shown setting leaking methane gas on fire with flames shooting far above her head. …

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curi56

Fighting for justice means fighting for justice for all of us and not playing around with the colour of skin. Focus on justice. i am a scientist for educ./psychoanalysis/art - and frankly speaking a savant - discovered that I can do more with blogs & social networks for humans in shadow, children in shadow, animals in need et al - I have some more blogs, please, visit them p.e.: www.childreninprison.wordpress.com www.schweingehabt.wordpress.com colouredjustice.wordpress.com Curi56blog et al. I am glad to meet YOU here: Annamaria thank you Annamaria

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