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Current Affairs

Melting Arctic permafrost will accelerate global warming

Date: 29 April 2019 Tags: Climate Change

According to new study, Arctic’s thawing permafrost will release methane and carbon dioxide and hugely accelerate global warming. The economic consequences of melting Arctic will add up to $70 trillion to the worlds climate bill

Study Findings

  • This study is first to calculate economic impact of permafrost melt and reduced albedo (a measure of how much light that hits  surface is reflected without being absorbed).
  • Its results were based on the most advanced computer models predicting most likely scenario to happen in the Arctic as temperatures rise.
  • According to it, if countries fail to improve on their commitments to 2018 Paris agreement, this feedback mechanism, combined with loss of heat-deflecting white ice, will cause  near 5% amplification of global warming and its associated costs,
  • It will destabilise natural systems and further worsen problem caused by man-made emissions, making it more difficult and expensive to solve.
  • 3 Celsius of warming by end of the century and resulting melting of permafrost will discharge up to 280 gigatonnes of CO2 and 3 gigatonnes of methane. This will increase global climate-driven impacts by $70 trillion by 2300 from now.

Permafrost

  • It is any ground that remains completely frozen—32°F (0°C) or colder—for at least two years straight. It is made of combination of soil, rocks and sand that are held together by ice.
  • The soil and ice in permafrost stay frozen all year long. The surface of permafrost soils also contain large quantities of leftover organic carbon—a material leftover from dead plants that couldn’t decompose due to the cold.
  • Lower permafrost layers contain soils made mostly of minerals. Whereas, top layer soil of permafrost does not stay frozen all year. It is active layer which thaws during warm summer months and freezes again in winter.
  • These permanently frozen grounds i.e. permafrost are most common in regions with high mountains and Earth’s higher latitudes—near North and South Poles. They cover large regions of Earth i.e. almost quarter of land area in Northern Hemisphere is underneath permafrost.