Melting permafrost speeds global warming


IQALUIT — Scientists with the United Nations Study on Climate Change say a vicious circle is making the world’s temperature rise even more rapidly.

Melting permafrost in many Arctic regions is part of a chain reaction that seems to be accelerating the melt process even more.

Solidly frozen permafrost locks in so-called “greenhouse gases” such as carbon dioxide. But when permafrost melts, it releases these gases, which trap heat in the lower atmosphere.

“There are indications that at least some parts of the Arctic have switched from being sinks of carbon dioxide to being sources,” the U.N. scientists said.

When there’s more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, temperatures rise, and the permafrost is even more likely to melt.

This chain reaction can be disastrous because when permafrost dissolves, damage results to roads, houses and pipelines.

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