Exploding permafrost

Beneath the tundra lie vast layers of organic matter (sequestered carbon) from long-dead plants and animals. As permafrost begins to melt this matter, frozen for thousands if not millions of years, it begins to decay.


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As the Arctic warms at twice the rate of the rest of the planet, permafrost continues to melt at an increasing rate. Beneath the tundra lie vast layers of organic matter (sequestered carbon) from long-dead plants and animals. As permafrost begins to melt, this matter, frozen for thousands if not millions of years, begins to decay. Just as with our garbage and landfills, some of the by-products of this decay are carbon dioxide and methane. The latter is a greenhouse gas 80 times more powerful than the former for warming our planet. It’s roughly estimated that the permafrost emits about 500 million tons of methane each year. As these gasses increase pressure underground, they begin to seep toward the surface, and some erupt, much like a volcano, leaving sinkholes behind. “Naturally” escaping methane has not been factored into any of our climate modeling projections, meaning we might have even less time to address climate change.

Let me know what you think.

-Arctic sinkholes, right now, on NOVA!

Author: Stephen Fielding Images

I'm a retired medical sociologist from the University of Rochester. Climate change is one of the two great challenges facing humanity (the other is nuclear weapons). In writing about the impact of climate change I read reputable books and articles on the topic. So when I make statements about climate change you will see a link taking you to the scientific source(s) of the information I provide. As for my independently published photobooks, each has gone through several layers of editing and peer review for both readability and accuracy. This is not to say that everything I say is accurate. Even the New York Times makes mistakes. So, if you find something that is factually incorrect, let me know. I hope you find reading my blog a positive experience. If you do, please encourage your family and friends to have a look. You can find photos from my other photo work by clicking on the My SmugMug Gallery tab, above. Best wishes, -Steve

2 thoughts on “Exploding permafrost”

  1. That was a VERY interesting program. One more ☹️ to add to the list.

    Sent from my iPhone

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    1. I used to think I was the only doom & gloom guy. Unfortunately, most reputable news organizations are putting the environmental science and it’s implications out there. Still, few “look up.”

      Like

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