Thawing Permafrost Will ‘Seep, Not Explode’ CO2

The Arctic holds more than a trillion tons of carbon, locked in the frozen soil known as permafrost. That’s more than twice as much carbon as there is in the atmosphere itself, according to a 2013 report from the National Academy of Sciences. And as the climate warms under its growing blanket of human-generated greenhouse gases, thawing permafrost could release some of that carbon into the atmosphere.

That could amplify the effect of global warming by boosting CO2 levels higher than they would otherwise be in a so-called feedback loop and making the consequence of warming, including rising seas, more intense and prolonged heat waves and droughts and distorted weather patterns even more severe.


Alaska Region U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)