The Alaskan tundra is warming so quickly it has become a net emitter of carbon dioxide ahead of schedule, a new study finds. (emphasis added)
Since CO2 is the primary heat-trapping greenhouse gas — and since the permafrost contains twice as much carbon as the atmosphere does today — this means a vicious cycle has begun that will speed up global warming.
“Because it’s getting warmer, there’s more CO2 coming out which means it’s going to get warmer which means there’s more CO2 coming out,” explained Harvard researcher and lead author Roisin Commane. “And it will just run away with itself.”
The study is the first to report that a major portion of the Arctic is a net source of heat-trapping emissions. As a result, Commane warns that our current climate models need to be updated: “We’re seeing this much earlier than we thought we would see it.”
New permafrost study underscores the critical importance of ambitious climate targets, like the Paris agreement.thinkprogress.org
“We find that Alaska, overall, was a net source of carbon to the atmosphere during 2012–2014,” the study concludes. Data from NOAA’s Barrow…