Thursday, June 15, 2006

A slightly fresher lake what the Arctic is liable to be if this continues. More bad news on the positive-feedback front (via GCC):
FAIRBANKS, Alaska -- Permafrost, permanently frozen soil, isn’t staying frozen and a type of soil called loess contained deep within thawing permafrost may be releasing significant, and previously unaccounted for, amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, according to authors of a paper published this week in the journal Science.

Preliminary assessments by scientists from Russia, the University of Florida, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks indicate that loess permafrost, which covers more than a million square kilometers in Siberia and Alaska, is a large carbon reservoir with the potential to be a significant contributor of atmospheric carbon, yet it is seldom incorporated into analyses of changes in global carbon reservoirs.

“The unique aspect of the Siberian loess permafrost is that it is quite deep – 20 to 40 meters - and has a surprisingly high carbon concentration at depth for a mineral soil,” said Terry Chapin, co-author from the Institute of Arctic Biology at UAF. “This paper explains the processes that led to the accumulation of large amounts of soil carbon and the processes that could lead to its return to the atmosphere."
So there's that. But not to worry - there's gold in them thar glaciers, once they're gone of course:
OTTAWA -- Arctic scientists say Canada must develop policies now to deal with the Northwest Passage when it becomes ice-free.

A panel of Canadian and U.S. scientists said yesterday it's inevitable that the melting of Arctic ice will open the passage for summer marine navigation, leading to new worries ranging from controlling pollution to halting smuggling.

Experts may still disagree about whether the thaw is part of a natural cycle or the result of human activity causing climate change, said John Falkingham, the chief of ice forecasting services for Environment Canada. But there is no doubt what's happening.

"The debate has moved from if it is going to happen to when," he told a government-sponsored conference of top experts yesterday.
(Thanks, Greg.)

Of course, it might have been nice if the debate had moved away from "if" to "how do we stop it" like, a decade ago.

So the polar bears will finish eating themselves, and we'll be the first to move in to make their remains in to hot-dog stands. Mmmm, polar bear.

No comments: