Melt­ing Per­mafrost Emit­ting Po­tent Green­house Gas Nitrous Ox­ide

Trillions - - In This Issue -

A re­cent study led by re­searchers from the Univer­sity of Eastern Fin­land re­veals that per­mafrost thaw may greatly in­crease emis­sions of nitrous ox­ide (N2O) from north­ern per­mafrost peat-lands.

Melt­ing tun­dra is not just re­leas­ing CO2 and meth­ane but is also re­leas­ing the su­per po­tent green­house gas nitrous ox­ide N2O in sig­nif­i­cant amounts.

Nitrous ox­ide is a very strong green­house gas: 300 times more pow­er­ful per unit mass in warm­ing the climate than CO2. It is known that thaw­ing of per­mafrost may en­hance climate warm­ing by re­leas­ing the vast car­bon stocks locked in Arc­tic soils as the green­house gases car­bon diox­ide (CO2) and meth­ane (CH4). The role of N2O for per­mafrost–climate feed­backs, how­ever, is not yet well un­der­stood.

A vul­ner­a­bil­ity as­sess­ment in­di­cated that ar­eas with high prob­a­bil­ity for N2O emis­sions cover ap­prox­i­mately one fourth of the Arc­tic. Ac­cord­ing to the au­thors, the Arc­tic N2O bud­get will de­pend strongly on fu­ture mois­ture and veg­e­ta­tion changes. How­ever, the au­thors state that the Arc­tic will likely be­come a sub­stan­tial source of N2O when per­mafrost thaws.

The Arc­tic is the most crit­i­cal fac­tor in climate change and global warm­ing be­cause:

1. It con­tains vastly more car­bon than all hu­man con­tri­bu­tions through­out his­tory.

2. The Arc­tic is heat­ing vastly more and more rapidly than any other part of the Earth and is al­ready out-gassing mas­sive amounts of green­house gases.

The UN'S In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has mostly ex­cluded the Arc­tic from its as­sess­ments and pre­dic­tions, which have con­sis­tently proven to be highly in­ac­cu­rate if not fraud­u­lent.

Hu­man car­bon emis­sions have al­ready peaked and should soon start to de­cline but at­mo­spheric green­house gas lev­els con­tinue to climb rapidly from nat­u­ral sources and the Earth's in­abil­ity to ab­sorb so much CO2.

While it is es­sen­tial that hu­mans greatly re­duce car­bon emis­sions now, it alone won't be enough to stop run­away climate change and mass ex­tinc­tion.

Given the re­al­i­ties, it is pru­dent to plan for the worst and de­velop strate­gies to live on a planet that is no longer as sup­port­ive of hu­man life, is much hot­ter, with much higher ocean lev­els and lower oxy­gen lev­els.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.