Permafrost Also Vulnerable to the Rise in World Temperature

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Permafrost Also Vulnerable to the Rise in World Temperature

Permafrost in the Arctic region  are extremely being damaged/ Photo By rawpixel via 123RF

 

Global warming caused by climate change is getting worse as the years pass by. Cloud forests are dying, sea levels are rising, glaciers are melting, and wildlife finds it difficult to keep up. Global warming has significantly changed Earth's climate, which varies from place to place and results in a range of other impacts. All the changes, such as rising seas, shifting wildlife populations and habitats, extreme weather events, and many more are becoming more intense as humans continue to make the planet's condition worse. 

A recent study showed that humans have caused the most dramatic climate change in three million years. The researchers used computer modeling to examine the changes in climate during the period. According to an article by Live Science, author Matteo Willeit stated that in order for us to experience a warmer climate, we have to go back to a different geological period. "It clearly shows that even if you look at past climates over very long timescales, what we are doing now in terms of climate change is something big and very fast, compared to what happened in the past," he added. 

Even the Arctic region and its permafrost are extremely being damaged. With so much ice in the said region, it will be dangerous for the world if it melts. It would result in an increased sea level. 

85% of the new landslides formed on Banks Island after four particularly hot summers 1998, 2010, 2011, and 2012, have thawed/ Photo By arsgera via 123RF

 

Rising World Temperature

A recent report from the researchers of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the universities of Oxford and Washington showed that the current safety margin that is left in our planet is 0.5°C. After that, the most vulnerable groups of people can suffer severely. 

The researchers also found out that there's a possibility that the number affected by a rise of 1.5°C in the world temperature can be doubled if the global temperature does rise by 2°C. They have identified 14 impact indicators in three main sectors, such as food and environment, water, and energy. The said indicators include crop yield changes, habitat degradation, heat stress events, clean cooking access, water supply seasonality, and water stress index. 

This study shows that global warming will not only impact our environment and the millions of species living it but it can get more communities to become more vulnerable to poverty. With that, the economy will be potential damaged, causing more negative implications for society. 

What is Permafrost?

Formed continuously for a minimum of two years and as many as hundreds of thousands of years, permafrost is defined as any type of ground, from soil to sediment to rock, that has been frozen for the said time. It usually covers entire regions or a single, isolated spot, which can be found in the Arctic regions of Siberia, Greenland, Canada, and Alaska. It can also cover wide spaces. For instance, permafrost covers an estimated nine million square miles in the northern hemisphere. It is the combined size of China, the United States, and Canada. 

According to an article by the NDRC, permafrost is usually formed when water is trapped in soil, sediment, and pores of rocks that freeze on a frigid winter night. However, the Earth is warming faster than before. This causes permafrost to thaw, which releases carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. These could worsen global warming even more. 

World's Permafrost is Warming

Climate change and global warming are severely damaging our planet and this includes the permafrost. In fact, a recent study conducted by Antoni Lewkowicz, a professor in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Geomatics at the University of Ottawa, showed that areas of cold permafrost can be vulnerable to rising summer temperatures. The researcher used a set of satellite images from the Google Earth Engine Timelapse dataset to record the increasing number of retrogressive thaw slumps. 

According to an article by the Science Daily, the study showed that 85% of the new landslides formed on Banks Island after four particularly hot summers 1998, 2010, 2011, and 2012, have thawed. In an interview, Professor Lewkowicz said, "We cannot stop thousands of thaw slumps once they start. We can only make changes in our own lives to reduce our carbon footprint and we can encourage our politicians to take the necessary measures to help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions." 

Additionally, Professor Lewkowicz stated that there can be a further increase in retrogressive thaw slumps due to global warming and rising temperatures. In fact, Banks Island alone can experience 10,000 new slumps per decade. These thaw slumps can cause several impacts, such as disturbance in ecosystems in extended periods and can also make hunting or fishing harder. These changes can still get more drastic if not mitigated immediately. 

Professor Lewkowicz concluded that future warming of our planet should be as limited as possible not only for the permafrost but also for our ecosystem in general.

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