Navigation Links
Abrupt permafrost thaw increases climate threat
Date:11/30/2011

Fairbanks, Alaska -- As the Arctic warms, greenhouse gases will be released from thawing permafrost faster and at significantly higher levels than previous estimates, according to survey results from 41 international scientists published in the Nov. 30 issue of the journal Nature.

Permafrost thaw will release approximately the same amount of carbon as deforestation, say the authors, but the effect on climate will be 2.5 times bigger because emissions include methane, which has a greater effect on warming than carbon dioxide.

The survey, led by University of Florida researcher Edward Schuur and University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate student Benjamin Abbott, asked climate experts what percentage of the surface permafrost is likely to thaw, how much carbon will be released and how much of that carbon will be methane. The authors estimate that the amount of carbon released by 2100 will be 1.7 to 5.2 times larger than reported in recent modeling studies, which used a similar warming scenario.

"The larger estimate is due to the inclusion of processes missing from current models and new estimates of the amount of organic carbon stored deep in frozen soils," Abbott said. "There's more organic carbon in northern soils than there is in all living things combined; it's kind of mind boggling."

Northern soils hold around 1,700 billion gigatons of organic carbon, around four times more than all the carbon ever emitted by modern human activity and twice as much as is now in the atmosphere, according to the latest estimate. When permafrost thaws, organic material in the soil decomposes and releases gases such as methane and carbon dioxide.

"In most ecosystems organic matter is concentrated only in the top meter of soils, but when arctic soils freeze and thaw the carbon can work its way many meters down, said Abbott, who studies how carbon is released from collapsed landscapes called thermokarsts a process not accounted for in current models. Until recently that deep carbon was not included in soil inventories and it still is not accounted for in most climate models.

"We know about a lot of processes that will affect the fate of arctic carbon, but we don't yet know how to incorporate them into climate models," Abbott said. "We're hoping to identify some of those processes and help the models catch up."

Most large-scale models assume that permafrost warming depends on how much the air above the permafrost is warming. Missing from the models, say the authors, are processes such as the effects of abrupt thawing that can melt an ice wedge, result in collapsed ground and accelerate additional thawing.

"This survey is part of the scientific process, what we think is going to happen in the future, and how we come up with testable hypotheses for future research," Schurr said. "Our survey outlines the additional risk to society caused by thawing of the frozen North and the need to reduce fossil fuel use and deforestation."

By integrating data from previous models with expert predictions the authors hope to provide a frame of reference for scientists studying all aspects of climate change.

"Permafrost carbon release is not going to overshadow fossil fuel emissions as the main driver of climate change" said Schuur, "but it is an important amplifier of climate change."


'/>"/>
Contact: Marie Gilbert
megilbert@alaska.edu
907-474-7412
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Slight changes in climate may trigger abrupt ecosystem responses
2. Permafrost line recedes 130 km in 50 years
3. Stream water study detects thawing permafrost
4. Thawing permafrost likely will accelerate global warming
5. Exercise increases brain growth factor and receptors, prevents stem cell drop in middle age
6. European ancestry increases breast cancer risk among Latinas
7. Long-term use of diabetes drugs by women significantly increases risk of fractures
8. Sweetened beverage consumption increases in the US
9. Gene mutation increases drug toxicity, rejection risk in pediatric kidney transplants
10. Indoor air pollution increases asthma symptoms
11. Lower increases in global temps could lead to greater impacts than previously thought, study finds
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Abrupt permafrost thaw increases climate threat
(Date:3/30/2017)... HONG KONG , March 30, 2017 ... developed a system for three-dimensional (3D) fingerprint identification by adopting ground ... technology into a new realm of speed and accuracy for use ... applications at an affordable cost. ... ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... -- The Controller General of Immigration from Maldives Mr. ... have received the prestigious international IAIR Award for the most innovative high ... ... Maldives Immigration Controller ... (small picture on the right) have received the IAIR award for the ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... Optimove , provider of the ... as 1-800-Flowers and AdoreMe, today announced two new ... Using Optimove,s machine learning algorithms, these features allow ... recommendations to their customers based not just on ... intent drawn from a complex web of data ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:7/25/2017)... ... July 25, 2017 , ... ... of Strategic Planning. His extensive background in consulting, development and marketing make ... marketing and differentiation consulting, business strategy development, new product marketing and global ...
(Date:7/24/2017)... ... July 24, 2017 , ... ... announced that the stock market news outlet had initiated coverage on Interpace ... that screens and identifies exposure, progression and risk analysis from specific cancers ...
(Date:7/20/2017)... ... July 20, 2017 , ... VIC Technology Venture Development™ (VIC™), ... of directors. This addition continues to strengthen and diversify VIC’s board. , "We ... Chairman. “He is a highly accomplished business executive with a broad range of experience ...
(Date:7/18/2017)... ... July 18, 2017 , ... Nanomedical Diagnostics, a ... announces the launch of a new NTA biosensor chip for use with its ... the kinetics of polyhistidine-tagged (His-tagged) molecules quickly and reliably. , “Recombinant proteins ...
Breaking Biology Technology: