Top Leaderboard, Site wide
October 24, 2014
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
Sign up for Truthdig's Email NewsletterLike Truthdig on FacebookFollow Truthdig on TwitterSubscribe to Truthdig's RSS Feed

Get Truthdig's headlines in your inbox!








Truthdig Bazaar more items

 
Ear to the Ground

How Bad Will It Be When the Permafrost Melts?

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share

Posted on Feb 22, 2013
NASA Goddard Photo and Video (CC BY 2.0)

Permafrost blankets the land around Omulyakhskaya and Khromskaya Bays in Northern Siberia.

If the Earth’s average global temperature rises by another few tenths of a degree, a large area of Siberian permafrost will start to melt uncontrollably, releasing 160 to 290 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in the years that follow. But the dangers have been overhyped, a British climate scientist says.

Tim Lenton, a climate scientist at the University of Exeter in the U.K, says the greatest concern pertains to buildings and infrastructure that sit on the hard permafrost. For example, pipelines that transport Russian gas to Europe will be undermined as the ground on which they stand softens.

Those who fear global warming often refer to the release of methane trapped beneath permafrost as a game-changing event, throwing the world’s climate into a state of unstoppable heating. But Lenton says that future fossil fuel emissions by humans far outstrip what is likely stored beneath the icy Siberian ground. University of Florida scientist Ted Schuur agrees. Methane emissions are “not a runaway effect but an additional source that is not accounted in current climate models,” he said.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

New Scientist:

[T]oday’s permafrost is likely to become vulnerable when we hit 1.5 °C of global warming.

… It will be very hard to stop the permafrost degrading as a warming of 1.5 °C is not far off. Between 1850 and 2005, global temperatures rose 0.8 °C, according to the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Even if humanity stopped emitting greenhouse gases tomorrow, temperatures would rise another 0.2 °C over the next 20 years. That would leave a window of 0.5 °C – but in fact our emissions are increasing. What’s more, new fossil fuel power stations commit us to several decades of emissions.

Read more

More Below the Ad

Advertisement

Square, Site wide

New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

 
Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
 
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 
 
 
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Publisher, Zuade Kaufman   Editor, Robert Scheer
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.