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Giant herbivores in Arctic to fight climate change

Date: 27 April 2020 Tags: Climate Change

Issue

A team of scientists has come up with a bizarre plan to fill the Arctic with hordes of grazing animals like reindeer and bison. The idea is to keep the permafrost frozen by trampling it under the weight of these hordes.

 

Background

Climate change and its harmful impact on the Arctic is not unknown. However, the idea of fighting climate change or global warming with hordes of grazing animals is something unheard of before.

 

Details

  • As per the team of scientists, this trick alone could save 80 percent of the Arctic’s permafrost until the year 2100.

  • The sounding reason behind this lies in the equation between the snow and the soil. In the Arctic, the snow that falls on the ground starts acting as a layer of insulation between the soil and the frigid air above it.

  • The idea is that restoring large herds of animals to the Arctic landscape could help protect permafrost, a carbon-rich layer of permanently frozen soil stretching across much of the tundra.

  • As temperatures rise in the rapidly warming Arctic, large swaths of permafrost are beginning to heat up and melt, releasing climate-warming carbon emissions in the process.

  • Due to worsening climate change, that insulation results in the soil’s temperature to rise. Beyond a point, this temperature rise eventually results in the permafrost beginning to thaw.

  • The study mentions that large herbivores like bisons and reindeers disperse the snow insulation as they walk around. In addition, these animals also help stamp down and compact the soil beneath them.

  • There are, however, still doubts on the feasibility of the study. A simple question that renders it impractical is the scale at which it would have to be applied to attain any significant results. 

  • The increasing climate change is headed towards tipping the Earth to a point of no return. The impact can be seen at almost every point on the planet.

  • The arctic, for instance, was recently found with a 1 million square kilometre wide hole in the Ozone layer. Usually, such occurrences were limited to the South Pole.

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