Earth's Biggest Natural Fridge is Turning into a Greenhouse Gas Machine

Permafrost is like the world’s refrigerator, says Janet Jansson, a microbiologist and division director of biological sciences at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. It encases and preserves organic material, including twice the amount of carbon that's currently in the air.

But when it thaws out, microbes frozen in the permafrost kick back into action and produce greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide. Two papers out recently in Nature and Nature Climate Change discuss how those microbes could contribute to global warming.


Paxson Woelber (CC BY 2.0)