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article imageGlobal Warming: Arctic permafrost releasing more carbon, methane

By Marcus Hondro     Apr 11, 2015 in Science
A new study shows thawing permafrost in the Arctic, thawing due to global warming, is releasing greenhouse gases in the form of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. The only good news is that the process is a gradual one.
The study shows that frozen Arctic and sub-Arctic soil is thawing due to global warming and that process is releasing more gases, carbon dioxide and methane, contributing to yet more global warming. While this will accelerate climate change, a leader of the study, Prof. Dave McGuire of the U.S. Geological Survey and an ecology professor at the University of Alaska, said it is happening slowly.
But already, the scientists say, the temperature of permafrost in the Arctic has risen almost 11 degrees (from 18 degrees to 28 degrees Fahrenheit). They believe this process will come to be responsible for roughly the same amount of global warming that's being brought about due to tropical deforestation, estimated to be causing 10 percent of global warming.
'The estimates that we came up in this synthesis suggest that throughout the rest of this century, it could be on the order of the magnitude of what tropical deforestation currently affects the global carbon cycle,' Prof. McGuire said in a statement.
As the earth's climate warms the permafrost, which is soil that is permanently frozen, begins to thaw. This leads to the decomposing of microbes in the permafrost, releasing carbon dioxide and methane.
The 17 scientists who have contributed to the study are members of a larger group of scientists from around the world who are part of the Permafrost Carbon Network, a group studying climate change in the Arctic. Their study, also being called a 'review,' is titled Climate change and the permafrost carbon feedback and was published in the journal 'Nature.'
More about Global warming, arctic permafrost, Greenhouse gases
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