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Trapped permafrost gases could be released

Posted on Saturday, 27 October, 2012 | Comment icon 37 comments | News tip by: Hilander

Image credit: NOAA

Large quantities of greenhouse gases could be released in to the atmosphere over the next century.

It is believed that as much as 850 billion tons of carbon and 44 billion tons of nitrogen are stored within the Arctic permafrost, a ticking time bomb of greenhouse gases that could be released as the ground warms up over the next few decades. If that were to happen then the gases would contribute substantially to global warming, further exacerbating the existing problem.

"While the permafrost of the polar latitudes may seem distant and disconnected from the daily activities of most of us, its potential to alter the planet's habitability when destabilized is very real," said US Geological Survey director Marcia McNutt.

"The release of carbon and nitrogen in permafrost could exacerbate the warming phenomenon and will impact water systems on land and offshore according to USGS scientists and their domestic and international collaborators."

  View: Full article |  Source: Science Daily

  Discuss: View comments (37)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #28 Posted by Little Fish on 2 November, 2012, 19:45
any climate threat will come from a global ice age. some perspective:
Comment icon #29 Posted by Br Cornelius on 2 November, 2012, 19:53
Steve, No one is claiming that the world is ending because of us. The world will continue, but the world we need to survive may not. To the world this matters not one tiny jot since it has been through 6 mass extinctions in its long history. Unfortunately we are not the world and we will certainly regret having destroyed the equilibrium of a system on which have come to depend on having a very narrow set of environmental variables. For most that going to be terminal - for some they will probably survive into a very different future. I don't know what hole you pulled the time scale of 100yr... [More]
Comment icon #30 Posted by Kazoo on 2 November, 2012, 19:53
They thought that along time ago too. But then boom. Science created more efficient ways to grow crops. Humanity saved. With all the amazing technology we have today. I'm sure we'll be fine as long as we stop people from purposely withholding for capitalist purposes.
Comment icon #31 Posted by pallidin on 2 November, 2012, 19:56
I assume this gaseous release is a slow release(decades/centuries/many centuries) But I am no expert in that field. As was suggested earlier in this thread, this has happened before, with no truly catastrophic consequences. However, that was before we started dumping serious pollutants into the very air we breath. I am going to hold from a firm opinion at this time...
Comment icon #32 Posted by Professor Buzzkill on 2 November, 2012, 19:59
And as long as we don't destroy the capitalist system that encourages technological advancements in the name of climate change
Comment icon #33 Posted by Little Fish on 2 November, 2012, 20:23
all this malthusian indoctrination about population. human population is largely in decline. the west and other "first world" countries, china, russia are all in population decline, developing nations such as india are stabilising. the only place where population is increasing is in africa and black skinned countries. if you want to reduce the population, then you should be lobbying for reducing the black population. edit - before anyone gets upset with that, the way to reduce population growth in african countries is by letting them develop independently, economically and educationa... [More]
Comment icon #34 Posted by Br Cornelius on 3 November, 2012, 10:27
Food production has peaked and is in decline. Technology in the agricultural sector borrows from the future since in depletes soil carbon and micro nutrients as well as water. We loose about a million acres of productive agricultural land a year. This is replaced by wilderness and forest clearance. All this is against a projected need to increase production by 50% to meet future population growth. Optimism in these circumstances is pure wishful thinking. Technology has always come with a downside, the main proposal at the moment is to increase production through GM crops, but no GM crop has ... [More]
Comment icon #35 Posted by Br Cornelius on 3 November, 2012, 10:34
Population is still growing even in most developed countries, it will continue to grow out to at least 2050 regardless of reproduction rate's dropping below replacement rates. We have discussed these demographic issues before Little Fish. Almost all of the environmental damage occurred in the last 40yrs. so a continuation of population growth out to 2050 will do as much damage as we have currently caused. What will make it worse is the standard of living and rates of resource consumption are growing across the world - and this is the main driver of environmental degradation. Education will... [More]
Comment icon #36 Posted by Little Fish on 3 November, 2012, 12:16
we have discussed them before, but you have not acknowledged that world population growth is overwhelmingly in africa, just look at the charts and compare Europe, north america with africa. if you are going to talk about numbers then the numbers matter. the blue line is africa - 1 billion in 2010 - 3.5 billion in 2100 (growth of 2.5 billion) the top line is world population - 7 billion in 2010, 10 billion in 2100 (growth of 3 billion) so 83% of the population growth up to 2100 is going to be in africa, the other half billion is in asia (4 billion in 2010, 4.5 billion in 2100) after which it... [More]
Comment icon #37 Posted by Br Cornelius on 3 November, 2012, 12:28
Unless you let them starve when they exceed their ability to feed themselves - it matters little where the population growth is. However standards of living are rising in many parts of Africa - and as I pointed out it is this factor which makes the population time bomb so dangerous. Over two billion people in India and China are experiencing a dramatic expansion in their standard of living - with consequent pressures on resources. Picking an arbitrary end date of 2100 masks the obvious fact that most of the growth occurs up to 2040 - and that is entirely enough time to do all the damage I de... [More]

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