Canada's Permafrost Has Moved North 80 Miles in Past 50 Years

james bay map

James Bay is the southernmost part of Hudson Bay...

The area around Canada's James Bay has warmed about 2°C in the past twenty years alone, causing permafrost to melt and moving the southern edge of the perpetually frozen ground north 80 miles over where it was in the 1960s. That's the word from scientists at the Université Laval in Quebec:Writing in the journal Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, the scientists also say that permafrost is in an advanced state of deterioration as far north as the 55th parallel.

Author Serge Payette was quoted by Reuters as describing the warming as "the end of the line for permafrost." He added that though the trend cannot be conclusively linked to climate change owing to a lack of data in the remote region, global warming is the most likely cause of the retreat.

Stored Methane Emissions Increasing
Though the permafrost in the area around James Bay stores less methane than land farther north and in Siberia, the amount of methane being released into the atmosphere from the Arctic has increased over between 2003-2007. Remember that though it is more shortly lived in the atmosphere than CO2, methane is a more potent greenhouse gas. The fear is that a tipping point will be reached and vast stores of methane will be released in a relatively short time period as the permafrost melting trend continues.

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