AUG 28, 2015 08:20 AM PDT

Scientists Urge Leaders to Address Thawing Permafrost

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
The Arctic permafrost has been frozen for thousands of years (permanent frost). The frozen soil of this ancient ground contains almost double the amount of carbon currently present in our atmosphere. Now, scientists raise concerns about the permafrost thawing - and releasing monstrous amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. 


The Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) in Massachusetts is dedicated to tackling problems like the melting permafrost. Along with other climate scientists, researchers from the WHRC actively stress to many nations' leaders, including U.S. President Obama, the impending consequences of ignoring the situation in the Arctic. In two days, leaders from many countries will meet in Anchorage, Alaska for the Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience. The direction these leaders choose to take concerning the melting permafrost will have a monumental impact on Earth's climate trajectory. 

According to a recent policy brief from the WHRC, decreasing carbon dioxide emissions through fossil fuel use, deforestation, and black carbon deposition is the top priority to prevent "disastrous and irreversible" damage. The release of greenhouse gases triggers the warming of the atmosphere, which in turn leads to increased thawing permafrost. As the permafrost melts, carbon dioxide and methane are released, further adding to the accelerated climate change.


Dr. Max Holmes, a Senior Scientist at the WHRC, stresses the importance for our nation to prioritize focus on finding "the tipping point." He asks, "at what level of warming will the cycle of warming and permafrost thawing become impossible to stop?"

Many other research institutes' missions are centered around combating global warming and the environmental issues related to increased use of fossil fuels. The issue is also present on many presidential candidates campaigns for the 2016 presidential election. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders includes a strong statement about global warming on his website: "We must transform our energy system away from polluting fossil fuels, and towards energy efficiency and sustainability." The issue is also popularly discussed in science fiction, like in Dr. Christy Esmahan's recent novel, The Laptev VirusUltimately, it is going to take strong and immediate action to prevent irreversible damage to our climate patterns, and the decisions made by the leaders at the upcoming conference in Alaska could potentially forecast the future of the permafrost. 

Watch the video below to hear more about the Arctic permafrost and the impact of the carbon resting in the ice. 



Source: Woods Hole Research Center

 
About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
DEC 10, 2018
Plants & Animals
DEC 10, 2018
Urbanized Tungara Frogs Have Developed Sexier Mating Calls, But Why?
Animals of all kinds change their behavior to adapt to urbanized settings, and tungara frogs are no different. New research published this week in the jour...
JAN 05, 2019
Microbiology
JAN 05, 2019
The Gut Microbiome can Help Shield Against Arsenic Toxicity
The microbes in our gut are intricately related to our health and well-being, and scientists continue to gain insight into that relationship....
JAN 09, 2019
Plants & Animals
JAN 09, 2019
Study Analyzes Elephant Movement Patterns Relative to Resource Availability
The world and its many landscapes are continuously changing, so it should come as no surprise that wild animals follow suit in order to adjust to the dynam...
FEB 03, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
FEB 03, 2019
The Effort to Sequence the Genomes of 1.5 Million Species
The Earth BioGenome Project aims to sequence and characterize the genomes of all known eukaryotes....
FEB 12, 2019
Earth & The Environment
FEB 12, 2019
Scientist swims Tennessee River and finds unprecedented plastic pollution
One researcher recently undertook an interesting strategy in order to analyze levels of microplastics in the Tennessee River: swimming. Dr. Andreas Fath, a...
FEB 18, 2019
Earth & The Environment
FEB 18, 2019
Household chores linked to air pollution
New research suggests that household tasks such as cooking and cleaning have significant impact on air pollution, generating particulate chemicals that lea...
Loading Comments...