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Melting Arctic Permafrost Looms as Major Factor in Warming, Climate Change

January 11, 2014

Full Article at http://www.wunderground.com/news/melting-arctic-permafrost-looms-major-factor-warming-climate-change-20130927

By Angela Fritz

A heavyweight boxer in the climate change match is missing from the fifth climate assessment report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Friday.

Permafrost, which is frozen ground that doesn’t melt during the summer, covers 24 percent of the land in the northern hemisphere. It also stores approximately 1.5 trillion tons of carbon – twice the amount of carbon currently in the atmosphere.

When the organic matter that makes up permafrost thaws, the carbon it contains becomes exposed to the elements, which can escape into the air in the form of heat-trapping gases with the potential to knock out efforts to slow down global warming with a one-two punch.

This effect, called the permafrost carbon feedback, is not present in the global climate change models used to estimate how warm the earth could get over the next century.  But research done in the past few years shows that leaving the permafrost effect out of the climate models results in a far more conservative estimate of how our climate will change.

Scientists predict that greenhouse gas from permafrost alone could lead to an additional 1.5 Fahrenheit degrees of warming by the end of this century, on top of day-to-day human emissions.

Full Article at http://www.wunderground.com/news/melting-arctic-permafrost-looms-major-factor-warming-climate-change-20130927

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