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Title: High risk of permafrost thaw

Author: Schuur, E.A.G.; Abbott, B.W.; Bowden, W.B.; Brovkin, V.; Camill, P.; Canadell, J.P.; Chapin, F.S. III; Christensen, T.R.; Chanton, J.P.; Ciais, P.; Crill, P.M.; Crosby, B.T.; Czimczik, C.I.; Grosse, G.; Hayes, D.J.; Hugelius, G.; Jastrow, J.D.; Kleinen, T.; Koven, C.D.; Krinner, G.; Kuhry, P.; Lawrence, D.M.; Natali, S.M.; Ping, C.L.; Rinke, A.; Riley, W.J.; Romanovsky, V.E.; Sannel, A.B.K.; Schadel, C.; Schaefer, K.; Subin, Z.M.; Tarnocai, C.; Turetsky, M.; Walter-Anthony, K. M.; Wilson, C.J.; Zimov, S.A.

Date: 2011

Source: High risk of permafrost thaw. Nature. 480: 32-33

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Arctic temperatures are rising fast, and permafrost is thawing. Carbon released into the atmosphere from permafrost soils will accelerate climate change, but the magnitude of this effect remains highly uncertain. Our collective estimate is that carbon will be released more quickly than models suggest, and at levels that are cause for serious concern. We calculate that permafrost thaw will release the same order of magnitude of carbon as deforestation if current rates of deforestation continue. But because these emissions include significant quantities of methane, the overall effect on climate could be 2.5 times larger. Models have flaws, but experts intimately familiar with these landscapes and processes have accumulated knowledge about what they expect to happen, based on quantitative data and qualitative understanding of these systems. We have attempted to quantify this expertise through a survey developed over several years. Our survey outlines the additional risk to society caused by thawing of the frozen north, and underscores the urgent need to reduce atmospheric emissions from fossil-fuel use and deforestation. This will help to keep permafrost carbon frozen in the ground.

Keywords: permafrost degradation, carbon release, Permafrost Carbon network

Publication Notes:

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

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Schuur, E.A.G.; Abbott, B.W.; Bowden, W.B.; Brovkin, V.; Camill, P.; Canadell, J.P.; Chapin, F.S., III; Christensen, T.R.; Chanton, J.P.; Ciais, P.; Crill, P.M.; Crosby, B.T.; Czimczik, C.I.; Grosse, G.; Hayes, D.J.; Hugelius, G.; Jastrow, J.D.; Kleinen, T.; Koven, C.D.; Krinner, G.; Kuhry, P.; Lawrence, D.M.; Natali, S.M.; Ping, C.L.; Rinke, A.; Riley, W.J.; Romanovsky, V.E.; Sannel, A.B.K.; Schadel, C.; Schaefer, K.; Subin, Z.M.; Tarnocai, C.; Turetsky, M. ; Walter-Anthony, K. M.; Wilson, C.J.; Zimov, S.A. 2011. High risk of permafrost thaw. Nature. 480: 32-33.

 


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