AUG 28, 2015 8:20 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 31, 2020
Earth & The Environment
Land subsidence projections for 2040
DEC 31, 2020
Land subsidence projections for 2040
Results from a meta-analysis literature review of global land subsidence have been reported in a Policy Forum of Science ...
JAN 22, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
A New Form of Lab-Cultivated Meat is Created
JAN 22, 2021
A New Form of Lab-Cultivated Meat is Created
Scientists have engineered a meat product that can be cultivated in a lab, and are suggesting that it contains more text ...
MAR 05, 2021
Plants & Animals
Scientists Heal Diseased Corals
MAR 05, 2021
Scientists Heal Diseased Corals
The world's coral reefs face numerous threats, including climate change, pollution, and habitat loss. Since 2014, an ...
APR 05, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Considering the ecological ethics of geoengineering
APR 05, 2021
Considering the ecological ethics of geoengineering
The debate over geoengineering - the idea that we could or should use technology to engineer solutions to cool down the ...
APR 21, 2021
Microbiology
An Unknown Unknown - What's the State of Microbial Biodiversity?
APR 21, 2021
An Unknown Unknown - What's the State of Microbial Biodiversity?
Researchers have noted that we have a 'profound ignorance' about the state of the microbial populations of the world.
APR 25, 2021
Microbiology
Plant-Eating Microbes Expand the Tree of Life
APR 25, 2021
Plant-Eating Microbes Expand the Tree of Life
After microbes called archaea were discovered in the 1970s, a branch was added to the tree of life after some debate, wh ...
Loading Comments...