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2012-11-27. Grappling With the Permafrost Problem

posted Dec 5, 2012, 1:40 PM by Lisa Ou
| by Justin Gillis, The NY Times. Relevant to Climate Change chapter 7. Excerpt:  The greatest single uncertainty about climate change is how much the warming of the planet will feed on itself. As the temperature increases because of human emissions, feedbacks could cause new pools of carbon to be released into the atmosphere, magnifying the trend. Other types of feedbacks could potentially slow the warming. Over all, climate scientists have only best guesses about how these conflicting tendencies will balance out, though most of them think the net result is likely to be a substantial rise in the planet’s average temperature…one of the most worrisome potential feedbacks involves the permafrost that underlies a quarter of the Northern Hemisphere. Buried in that frozen ground is a lot of ancient organic material, containing twice as much carbon as now exists in the atmosphere. The permafrost is starting to warm and the carbon to escape…In essence, the permafrost feedback is a big new emissions source that makes the math of controlling climate change harder than ever.…. Read the full article: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/27/grappling-with-the-permafrost-problem/?ref=science