photo: Andrei Taranchenko via flickr.
Melting permafrost releasing stored greenhouse gases has long been a known contributing and accelerating factor in global climate change. According to a study published in Nature and reported on by the AP, we may have a bit more time than we thought before all that trapped methane gets released:This isn't because the Arctic isn't warming, but because at least initially that warming will cause new plant growth which will, for a time, be able to absorb those greenhouse gases. That's the good news.
But Plants Will Get Overwhelmed Pretty Quickly...
The bad news is that such a great quantity of stored gases are trapped in the frozen tundra that the plants will eventually not be able to keep up with the increasing emissions. The study says that it will take between 15 and 50 years (a pretty big range, yes...) before the increased plant growth gets overwhelmed by growing emissions.
Once that happens an additional billion tons of carbon a year will be released into the atmosphere, an amount equivalent to the global warming impact of tropical deforestation.
Yes, it's that bad.
via: AP/Yahoo News
Why Yes, Methane Bubbling Up From a Frozen Lake Can Be Lit on Fire
Potent Greenhouse Gas on the Rise: Atmospheric Methane Levels Increasing Again
60% More Greenhouse Gases Trapped in Permafrost Than Previously Thought