Global warming’s greater than anticipated impact on permafrost will release huge amounts of methane and carbon dioxide as the soil thaws.
Permafrost, the layer of permanently frozen ground that lies just beneath the Earth’s surface in the polar regions, has been found to be more sensitive to the effects of global warming than climatology had recognised.
In a new study published in Nature Climate Change journal, scientists say they expect the warming to thaw about 20% more permafrost than previously thought, potentially releasing significant amounts of greenhouse gases into the Earth’s atmosphere.
The study, conducted by climate change experts from the universities of Leeds and Exeter, and the Met Office, all in the UK, and the universities of Stockholm and Oslo, suggests that nearly four million square kilometres of frozen soil – an area larger than India – could be lost for every additional degree of global warming the planet experiences.
Permafrost is frozen soil that has been at a temperature of below 0ºC for at least two years, trapping large amounts of carbon that is stored in organic matter held in the soil.
Read more at Permafrost Thaw Threatens Flood of Emissions