Sunday, July 31, 2011

Russia may lose 30% of permafrost by 2050

From Terra Daily via AFP, a story about loss of permafrost in Russia. No mention of the terrifying surge in methane released into the atmosphere, but that would also be involved. This is a good example of a negative effect that's almost unthinkable. According to the EPA in the United States, methane (CH4) remains in the atmosphere for approximately 9-15 years and it's over 20 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period and is emitted from a variety of natural and human-influenced sources. Human-influenced sources include landfills, natural gas and petroleum systems, agricultural activities, coal mining, stationary and mobile combustion, wastewater treatment, and certain industrial process. Now we add vanishing permafrost to the mix: Russia's vast permafrost areas may shrink by a third by the middle of the century due to global warming, endangering infrastructure in the Arctic zone, an emergencies ministry official said Friday.

"In the next 25 to 30 years, the area of permafrost in Russia may shrink by 10-18 percent," the head of the ministry's disaster monitoring department Andrei Bolov told the RIA Novosti news agency. "By the middle of the century, it can shrink by 15-30 percent, and the boundary of the permafrost may shift to the north-east by 150-200 kilometres," he said....

Permafrost in the high Arctic, shot by Mila Zinkova, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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