The revelation of massive amounts of additional carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of warming Arctic permafrost has added to the urgency of addressing climate change.
When the United Nations released its climate change report in October, it was revealed that rising Arctic temperatures are setting free a vast amount of carbon. These gases that had previously been locked in by the permafrost are being released at increasing rates. The increased presence of gases then speed up warming temperatures and in turn, more permafrost will melt. These feedback loops represent a threat of global warming spiraling out of control.
“It’s already begun,” Thomas Crowther, professor in the Department of Environmental Systems Science of ETH Zurich, told Yahoo News. “The feedback is in process.” Crowther estimates that carbon dioxide and methane emissions from thawing soils are “accelerating climate change about 12 to 15 percent at the moment.” Past climate change reports that left out these feedback loops “were way more optimistic than they should have been.”
Most scientists studying the impact of climate change are worried about the extent that feedback loops will accelerate global warming.
Photo: “Arctic Sea Ice” by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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