Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Permafrost and Carbon Emissions

Permafrost melt poses long-term threat, says study
AP Wed May 27, 2:57 pm ET

PARIS (AFP) – Melting permafrost could eventually disgorge a billion tonnes a year of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, accelerating the threat from climate change, scientists said Wednesday.
Their probe sought to shed light on a fiercely-debated but poorly-understood concern: the future of organic matter that today is locked up in the frozen soil of Alaska, Canada, northern Europe and Siberia.
The fear is that, as the land thaws, this material will be converted by microbes into carbon dioxide, which will seep into the atmosphere, adding to the greenhouse effect.
This in turn will stoke warming and cause more permafrost to thaw, which in turn pushes up temperatures, and so on.****
Burning fossil fuels adds about 8.5 gigatonnes of emissions each year, but it is a process that can theoretically be controlled.
Permafrost thaw, though, would be self-reinforcing and could be almost impossible to brake.
"It's not an option to be putting insulation on top of the tundra," Schuur said.
"If we address our own emissions either by reducing deforestation or controlling emissions from fossil fuels, that's the key to minimising the changes in the permafrost carbon pool.""

Permafrost melt is another problem caused by global warming, and fossil fuel burn cannot be that easily or inexpensively controlled. So what's to be done? For what we can do, please see

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