View Full Version : Siberian thaw could speed up global warming
09-25-2007, 03:15 PM
Siberian thaw could speed up global warming
September 26, 2007
Parts of the permafrost in Russia's northern wilderness are melting. Dmitry Solovyov and Alister Doyle reveal how that could affect us all - severely.
Sergei Zimov bends down, picks up a handful of treacly mud and holds it up to his nose. It smells like a cow pat, but he knows better. "It smells like mammoth dung," he says.
This is more than just another symptom of global warming.
For millenniums, layers of animal waste and other organic matter left behind by the creatures that used to roam the Arctic tundra have been sealed inside the permafrost. Now climate change is thawing the permafrost and lifting this prehistoric ooze from suspended animation.
But Zimov, a scientist who for almost 30 years has studied climate change in Russia's Arctic, believes that as this organic matter becomes exposed to the air it will accelerate global warming, making it faster than even some of the most pessimistic forecasts. "This will lead to a type of global warming which will be impossible to stop," he says.
When the organic matter left behind by mammoths and other wildlife is exposed to the air by the thawing permafrost, his theory runs, microbes that have been dormant for thousands of years spring back into action. As a by-product, they emit carbon dioxide and - even more damaging in terms of its impact on the climate - methane.
09-26-2007, 02:07 AM
[link:www.seedmagazine.com/news/2006/09/post_3.php|GREENHOUSE GAS BUBBLING FROM SIBERIAN PERMAFROST]
September 13, 2006
"As the permafrost thaws, these large quantities of methane are being released," .. "The methane gets out and that makes it warmer, so that means more methane gets out and that makes it even warmer, and so you get stuck in this positive feedback loop."
Yedoma, ... frozen tundric dust, deposited during the last glacial age, is rich in plant roots and animal bones, resulting in a carbon content 10 to 30 times higher than average deep soils.
When organic matter decomposes under air, it escapes as carbon dioxide. But much of the yedoma in Siberia lies at the bottom of lakes. When the carbon trapped in the permafrost decomposes under water, it provides microbes with "a banquet from which they burp out methane as a byproduct." ...
The fear is that the thawing lake region, which comprises 90 percent of the Russian permafrost zone, will dump methane into the atmosphere at a rate that will dwarf any human attempts to curtail carbon dioxide emissions.
Methane bubbles trapped in tundra lake ice
[link:www.greenclippings.co.za/gc_main/article.php?story=20060911143346269|Methane from Arctic permafrost accelerating global warming]
Date: Mon 11 September 2006
A report in Nature suggests we have less than a decade in which to halt global warming before the planet reaches a critical tipping point at which global warming could trigger an irreversible acceleration in climate change.
Arctic permafrost, which is starting to melt due to global warming, is releasing five times more methane gas than previously thought.
According to Chris Field, director of global ecology at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, "The higher the temperature gets, the more permafrost we melt, the more tendency it has to become a more vicious cycle".
In total, it is estimated there could be as much as 450 billion tonnes of methane and carbon dioxide trapped in the world's permafrost.
The Nature report revealed levels of discharge that were five times higher than previous estimates. Scientists have calculated that methane has a global warming potential that is 23 times that of carbon dioxide.
Large amounts of snowmelt flowing into surface fissures melt tunnels through masses of subterranean ice.
That, in turn, leads to the tunnels' collapse and further erosion, which forms extensive networks of gullies.
[link:www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/2006/1735049.htm|Melting permafrost spews out more methane]
Thursday, 7 September 2006
Fears that retreating permafrost is accelerating climate change have been strengthened by a new study that says emissions of the greenhouse gas methane are soaring in northern Siberia.
In a complex cycle, permafrost melts at the edges of lakes that previously were iced over year-round, according to the research led by Dr Katey Walter of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.
Organic material, the remains of rotted plants and long-dead animals, then subsides into the lake from the soil, slides to the lake bottom and decomposes to form methane.
Eventually, during a thaw, this methane bubbles to the surface and is released into the atmosphere. ...
One worry is what scientists called a "positive feedback" from billions of tonnes of stored methane that is locked in the ground and under frozen lakes in Canada and Siberia.
A lake in Alaska was found violently boiling with escaping methane.
[link:www.agu.org/sci_soc/prrl/prrl0410.html|Thawing subarctic permafrost increases greenhouse gas emissions]
24 February 2004
WASHINGTON - The permafrost in the bogs of subarctic Sweden is undergoing dramatic changes. The part of the soil that thaws in the summer, the so-called active layer, has become thicker since 1970, and the permafrost has disappeared altogether in some locations. This has lead to significant changes in the vegetation and to a subsequent increase in emission of the greenhouse gas methane. Methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.
Behind these new findings is an international research team led by the GeoBiosphere Science Centre at Lund University in Sweden. The results were published 20 February in Geophysical Research Letters. The researchers say their results are unique, as there are very few places in the circumpolar North where comparison of observations over a period of decades is possible. The Abisko region in subarctic Sweden, which they studied, has long-term records of climate, permafrost and other environmental variables, they say. The Abisko area is recognized by UNESCO as part of the international network of Man and the Biosphere Reserves.
In the present study, airborne infrared images were used to compare the distribution of vegetation in 1970 with that of 2000. Dramatic changes were observed, and the scientists relate them to the climate warming and decreasing extent of permafrost that was observed over the same period. ...
The annual mean temperature in Abisko is -0.7 degrees Celsius [30 degrees Fahrenheit], but during recent years it has often been above zero Celsius [32 degrees Fahrenheit]. "One might imagine the cold subarctic ecosystems as very static, but in areas where the mean annual temperature is around zero [Celsius; 32 degrees Fahrenheit], the ecosystems may be extremely sensitive. The ecosystems are dynamic and their response to climate change is very rapid. This we have seen clearly here in Abisko," says Christensen.
THE world's largest frozen peat bog is melting. An area stretching for a million square kilometres across the permafrost of western Siberia
is turning into a mass of shallow lakes as the ground melts.
09-26-2007, 05:27 AM
crisis. Anyone who is not scared by now is an ignorant delusional fool.
This year, I am turning down the heat to 40 (from 45 last winter) and insulating even more. I am also limiting my computer time till my elect use falls to 100 KWH a month. I am walking and taking public transportation everywhere I go, have given up meat and am growing more of my own food.
We all have to make dramatic changes or kiss our ass goodbye.
09-26-2007, 07:12 AM
Cutting back on energy use, as you've done, brings us closer to nature, to the spirit our lives share with Earth.
The mutilation and poisoning of our world is not the first cause of this disaster.
The real tragedy began when we forgot who we are, ripped our roots out from the beginnings and lost touch with our connections.
People living in their Babel Towers cannot feel what is happening, and, without sensing it for themselves, they are left with no compass to distinguish propaganda from truth. To a society weaned on cheap corn-syrup the story on a wicked United Nations inventing a global warning myth as a way to take over the world sounds sweeter than guilt-bringing warnings of impending disaster and the need to change lifestyles.
Years ago I spent some weeks "roughing it" in an old cool rain-forest. The forest spirits played hide and seek behind the trees, drawing me in, coaxing me to stay forever. The river spirits laughed and splashed and tripped me in the water, sending impossible tidal waves down the fast-flowing rocky river whenever I slipped under. I still feel them pulling at my heart, but I couldn't stay.
No longer are there are trees for the Naiades to hide behind, but they shed no tears.
Their eyes are dry now, painfully dry, forever.
09-27-2007, 04:14 AM
May they keep pulling you into being one with them! :hug:
09-27-2007, 05:13 AM
who feels the sacredness of our floating blue-green home,
and our responsibility as guardians of it.
This Earth is home to a galaxy of spirits clothed in fur, feathers, scales and skin.
And ancient spirits who see no need to be clothed in anything but the sheer joy of being.
Reality is full of holes, and no hole stays uninhabited for long.
Powered by vBulletin® Version 4.1.10 Copyright © 2013 vBulletin Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.