My 2013 video on permafrost was included with a Newsweek piece on the issue. These videos get watched by, and help educate, the media gatekeepers. That’s the key to changing the conversation.
Discussions of global warming often center on the release of greenhouse gases like carbon into the atmosphere, mostly from burning fossil fuels. There’s talk of “leaving it in the ground,” locking potential gases up in benign obscurity as untapped coal or oil reserves, but rarely does one see carbon slowly and steadily unlocking itself. In the Goldstream Valley in central Alaska, you can see it almost everywhere you look.
But in one spot, that carbon is still in suspended animation. Read more: Newsweek Features Permafrost Video | Climate Denial Crock of the Week
Carbon in soil, also permafrost and peatlands – it’s also may job.
The full truth about the permafrost is (much) more complicated.
“SOURCE: permafrost decomposition releases carbon to the atmosphere.
SINK: rising temperatures increases the length of the growing season and bring more productive vegetation to northern latitudes.”
“It is estimated that the release of carbon from permafrost decomposition will be larger than the sink due to changes in vegetation by 1 Pg/year.”
Really, always, right enough?
We have two claims in science:
(i) “Coupled climate-carbon models project that the northern high latitudes will serve as a substantial land carbon sink during the twenty-first century because both climate warming and elevated global [CO2] favor increased productivity and carbon uptake in the region (Friedlingstein et al. 2006, Qian et al. 2010, Sitch et al. 2008).”
(ii) “In contrast, results based on incorporating all of the major factors controlling the high-latitude carbon budget in uncoupled, process-based model simulations generally suggest that the net effect of increasing temperatures over the Arctic is a positive feedback to climate warming (McGuire et al. 2010, Hayes et al. 2011).”
“Fewer negative feedbacks have been identified, and they may not be large enough to counterbalance the large positive feedbacks (Euskirchen et al. 2010).”
Does it have (the latter claims) a solid base?
“Surprisingly little is known about the vulnerability of permafrost and how the landscape would evolve in the future. Key questions [?! …] are the extent to which permafrost carbon is stabilized by processes other than cold temperatures and the extent to which the active layer becomes thicker as well as saturated and anaerobic. […]”
“… accelerated decomposition may increase nitrogen availability, which promotes vegetation growth and may promote further microbial activity (Nowinski et al. 2008). However, the dynamics and mechanisms of plant response to changes in nitrogen availability are limited to only a few experiments. Furthermore, relatively little is known about the feedbacks that arise due to different forms of nitrogen released upon decomposition of labile vs recalcitrant carbon pools, thus further impeding model assessments (Xu et al. 2011).”
“While existing representations of land surface processes in Earth System models describe some interrelationships that exist among vegetation, biogeochemistry, and climate, many of the coupled arctic system properties and processes related to permafrost degradation are not currently explicitly represented.” (!? …)
Thus, whether “… the release of carbon from permafrost decomposition will be larger than the sink …?” Now and 100 years from “now” – for example?
“There is a need for improved high-resolution Arctic terrestrial simulation capabilities that allow explicit representation of properties and processes at the spatial and temporal scales where they occur. Such high-resolution modeling can only be achieved through synthesis of new knowledge…” (ibid.)
It is true, but we should add that – this new knowledge – (today) simply No.
Still it is possible another model – a typical model of an oscillating – Lotka–Volterra – here permafrost emission CH4/CO2 – permafrost photosynthesis
It is compatible with “permafrost glacial hypothesis” by Roland Zech:
“The amount of soil organic carbon released from thawing permafrost during glacial terminations at least partly compensated the carbon sequestered by expanding biomass, facilitating the explanation of glacial-interglacial changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations.” (We exchanged their views on this topic, by e-mail)
I add (finished): “the fossil industry” is also the main shareholder in companies – builders eg. wind farms …
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semczyszakarkadiusz, you’re right that the conflicting reports suggest more positive feedbacks, but that adequate data is lacking to reach a conclusion. Lots of the permafrost commentary seems more like a fear or a hunch than a reasonable prediction. Your last comment is why this blog refers to dispersed (roof-top and neighborhood solar) generation as the best alternative.