From Michael D. Lemonick’s piece, “Permafrost Timebomb” on Climate Central’s site:
For tens of thousands of years, huge amounts of plant matter—roots, leaf fragments and the like—have been kept in cold storage underground in the northern parts of Alaska, Canada, Europe and Siberia. They’re embedded in permafrost, or permanently frozen soil… As the planet continues to warm, however… rising temperatures threaten to thaw the permafrost, allowing the plant material to decompose and release carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, boosting the effects of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels.
What they have never known is just how much of that deep-frozen CO2 is likely to emerge. Now, a study in the journal Tellus has provided an answer: by 2200, the extra CO2 could add up to about half as much (allowing for uncertainties) as we’ve produced through fossil-fuel burning since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.
LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT ON EARTH?…
Interview: Katie Kline, Communications Officer at Ecological Society of America interviewed me via Skype for the ESA’s Ecotone blog. Read and hear it here.