Ice Loss Makes Permafrost Not So Perma!

Fri, 2008-06-27 07:16Ross Gelbspan
Ross Gelbspan's picture

Ice Loss Makes Permafrost Not So Perma!

As Arctic sea ice vanishes, permafrost could warm much more quickly than previously thought, according to new research. Melting permafrost could then release its vast stores of carbon into the atmosphere, accelerating global warming.

The study is the first to link the loss of sea ice to warmer temperatures hundreds of miles inland.  If sea ice continues to disappear, “we may see a period of accelerated change,” said David Lawrence, an author of the study.

Previous Comments

The issue of permafrost is one that I find intriguing for several reasons, not least of which is the question of whether the cultures that have existed in the north for thousands of years will have to revert to their historical modes of seasonal shelter to handle it. Anything with a modern foundation is going to heave all over the place from season to season if the permafrost fails. Roads will be impossible to maintain. The historic town of Dawson is already trying to cope with the implications.

One of the “Pollyanna” points for welcoming GW has been that northern areas will become inhabitable and agriculturally viable. I suspect this hasn’t really been carefully parsed out by the people chirping its benefits.

Fern Mackenzie

Fern Mackenzie

I’ve spent time learning about feedbacks to worst case scenario policy shifts to prevent warming feedbacks from being tripped. By the time I’m finished the policy advice might already be obsolete.