Rising temperatures are causing the melting of coastal land areas of the Arctic almost permanently frozen. This multiplied by 10 CO2 emissions from carbon deposits hitherto protected by ice and accelerate climate change. So says a study by the University of Stockholm, together with scientists from other countries, including the Catalan Institute of Climate Sciences (IC3).
The Arctic is the area of the planet that suffers most warming. This year has already broken the record for melting at the North Pole (and there are still weeks of snowmelt) and saw Greenland melted the surface
The study indicates that rising temperatures are causing permafrost thawing (the semi-permanently frozen ground) for a longer time in summer and deeper, activating organic carbon pools. This research, which took her fieldwork in the Siberian Arctic and whose results are published today in Nature , says that the Arctic carbon release, and degradation caused by erosion due to melting, could reach 44 million tonnes per year , ten times higher than that estimated.
To conduct the study, an international team embarked in 2008 on a major oceanographic where collected geochemical samples (sediments, permafrost, water, air and particulate matter) along 8,400 kilometers of the continental shelf and whose analysis has been reviewing concepts on Arctic carbon conservation and the role of flow in climate.
The analysis indicates that about two-thirds of the carbon in the permafrost, some deposits that in some cases date back to 40,000 years ago and have remained inactive to be frozen, it will escape into the atmosphere as CO2, one of the main causes of the greenhouse effect, explains Laura Sanchez-Garcia, co-author of the study. The progressive collapse of coastal permafrost thermal, “in a region particularly sensitive to rising temperatures,” says the scientist, may further accelerate warming.
Sanchez-Garcia stressed that the ice acted as a “buffer” or “bar closed” to prevent activation of the carbon, and these increasingly rapid changes cause a vicious circle. “Forms of hitherto inactive organic carbon being emitted to the atmosphere as greenhouse gases, which in turn causes more warming than carbon release more inactive, a trend that is being seen is increasing,” says this expert organic carbon cycle scale.
The Arctic coastal region, home to half of the deposits planetary terrestrial organic carbon (in an area equivalent to twice Spain and little studied so far by its difficult access) is undergoing a warming twice as high as the average.
Although the current rate of carbon emissions along the northwest coast Siberian still not substantially affecting the levels of CO2 in the global atmosphere, the studies show that the process is underway, the authors remark.