Thermokarst lakes release methane

Yet another piece of evidence to add to the mounting  flow concerning disruption of long-stable climate patterns that coincided with the Holocene geological period in which human civilisations flourished.:

Unfortunately, our planet’s changing climate is denting permafrosts around the world. And now NASA-funded research has confirmed that the expected gradual thawing of the Arctic permafrost is being dramatically sped up by a natural phenomenon known as thermokarst lakes.

This extract is from an article on the Science Alert website.

Permafrost covers about 24 percent of the exposed land in the Northern Hemisphere. There’s a lot of it. In some areas of the Arctic, the frozen ground is up to 80 metres (260 feet deep).

But despite its name, permafrost is not always permanent. With unusually warm weather, especially further away from the Arctic, it can melt, even on a semi-regular basis; however, deep in the Arctic a lot of it has stayed unmelted for tens of thousands of years – until now. And that’s where the problems start. The Arctic landscape also holds one of the largest natural reservoirs of organic carbon in the world. It’s all locked up in the ice, not causing any trouble at the moment. But when it slowly melts, the soil microbes eat the carbon and produce carbon dioxide and methane, which enters the atmosphere and contributes to global warming. Thermokarst lakes take this process to a whole new level, with permafrost thawing deeper and more quickly – which the researchers call abrupt thawing….

Although thermokarst lakes are currently not included in global climate change models because they’re small and scattered, the team says this new research shows how important it is to include them. Human fossil fuel emissions are still the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions, but these lakes are important to keep an eye on.

Leave a Reply