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Melting Tundra

Melting Tundra

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Sunday, January 27, 2019/Categories: natural history, photography, sustainability, environment, climate change

Parts of the Arcitc tundra in Siberia have begun to turn into "jelly" as the permafrost beneath melts. Sub-soils that have been frozen solid since the Pleistocene ice ages are finally beginning to turn liquid.

This symptom of a rapidly changing climate in the Arctic also holds the potential for release of masses of stored carbon. The unfrozen soil, rich in semi-decomposed carbon peat, is exposed to soil bacteria and fungi and begins rottting. The decomposition of all the dead and previously frozen plant material releases methane in the process.

The Russians have also discovered "pockets" of methane developing under the tundra and some have erupted explosively. According to the Siberian Times, explosions have been heard up to 60 miles away. Such "methane bombs" appear to be growing in number across the Siberian tundra.

Methane is 4-times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Melting permafrost should be of critical concern if it turns from a local event into one of a polar-wide scale.



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