Accelerated Permafrost Thawing will Make Present Global Warming Feel Like a Warm Breeze

Because of global warming, the temperature of our planet skyrocketed the past decades. The warming up of the surroundings caused the melting of the frozen soils within the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. Latest study now claims that this thawing of the permafrost even makes it worse because these phenomenon brings out greenhouse gases in the figure of carbon dioxide and methane.

Permafrost stored the released gases from the large amount of organic carbon. It is approximated that about 70% of permafrost will melt within the next century, which when occurs, can speed up greenhouse effect in an uncertain way.

In the Copenhagen Climate Congress, Philippe Ciais, researcher from the Laboratory for Climate Sciences and the Environment in Gif-sur-Yvette in France, introduced the catastrophic outcomes of climate change on Arctic permafrost. Apart from the rise of the sea levels and the danger of coastal areas vanishing under water, he also emphasized that the thawing of the Arctic soil will speed up the greenhouse effect.

A small heighten of 2oC average temperature can contribute to the melting of the permafrost and worst, release billions of loads of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane.

A conflicting overview, nevertheless, was also released led by Edward Schuur with 17 other scientist of Northern Arizona University which claims that this latest source of greenhouse gases is very slow. A. David McGuire, team’s co-author, a U.S. Geological Survey senior scientist and an expert in climate modeling said that the previous evidence disclose that the releasing patter of carbon from permafrost is slow and prolonged.

These claims were supported by their former estimates, wherein they concluded that there are between 1,330 and 1,580 gigatons carbon that can be found in the top three meters of global permafrost soil including Yedomas and Arctic river deltas. Other areas where carbons are locked up are in the “deep terrestrial permafrost sediments” with about 400 gigatons and in permafrost below the sea in shallow continental shelves. These values are enormous and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests that we should move towards a target of about 500 gigatons of carbon emissions in order to accomplish the goal of keeping global warming to 2 o C.

Over the last 3 decades, there has been a 0.6o C boost in temperature per decade in high-latitude regions of the Earth. The global average boost in temperature, on the other hand, is doubled as fast as the one mentioned above. In areas where permafrost is present such as Alaska, Russia and other Arctic regions, the average temperature boost if found to be is 18 to 28 F.

The message then is that, as the climate keeps to warm up, permafrost thaw which can release carbon dioxide and methane that accordingly accelerates the global warming more.  A challenge then to the scientific community and the world leaders is to take into account permafrost carbon releases in order to slow down global warming by diminishing greenhouse gas emissions.




  1. Jack Wolf says

    Even if it is a slow thaw, it is such a vast pool of carbon that even a little will have a profound affect. And given Arctic amplification, its an ever growing source of greenhouse gases.

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