Sure, we love the warmer weather. But up to two-thirds of the Earth’s permafrost may see it’s last days by 2200. This is a result from the warming temperatures, which is letting out large quantities of carbon into the atmosphere.

A new study by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences has found that this impact on the climate is a real possibility.

This carbon lives in permanently frozen ground on its beginning days of thawing in high latitudes from warming temperatures. In turn, it will impact both the climate and the international strategies to reduce fossil fuel emissions. According to CU-Boulder’s Kevin Schaefer, the lead study author,”If we want to hit a target carbon dioxide concentration, then we have to reduce fossil fuel emissions that much lower than previously thought to account for this additional carbon from the permafrost. Otherwise we will end up with a warmer Earth than we want.”

The carbon emissions comes from plant material, primarily their roots trapped and frozen in soil during the last glacial period. Although it ended about 12,000 years ago, it’s stayed frozen for quite some time. And as long as it stays frozen, it’s stable. But once it gets too warm out,  it will start to thaw and decay.

Other studies have, indeed, shown that carbon has begun to leak out of permafrost in Alaska and Siberia. However, this study is the first to make actual estimates of future carbon release from permafrost.

The team tested Arctic simulations with various temperature increases to forecast how much carbon may be released in the next couple of centuries. They estimated that this release may be about 190 billion tons of carbon, most of it in the next 100 years. The team used Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scenarios and land-surface models for the study.

From these simulations, the team estimated that about 30 to 60 percent of Earth’s permafrost will disappear by 2200.

The  study was published online on February 14 in the scientific journal Tellus. Read the full article from ScienceDaily.

Image courtesy of nationalgeographic.com


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