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Author Topic: Permafrost general science thread  (Read 38392 times)


  • Nilas ice
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Re: Permafrost general science thread
« Reply #100 on: June 13, 2020, 05:24:06 PM »
Good post jens imo.

In a global all-lifeforms context:
N₂O is a powerful GHG, then there's also the high-impact threat of large marine methane bursts and in general the likely increasing permafrost emissions in all areas that will be warmed up in an accelerating, step-wise manner because of AGW (BAU).

These permafrost emissions are out of our control!
These emissions will go on. Even when we stop with our anthropogenic emissions. And they are accelerating.

Long term (?) consequences:
A hothouse Earth is coming for certain I think, taking the above in consideration together with all other tipping points. A hyperthermal is likely imo. But that is off-topic here. Sorry, just connecting dots. There are many more dots but I realised that I drifted from the thread topic. Cheers.
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  • Nilas ice
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Re: Permafrost general science thread
« Reply #101 on: June 17, 2020, 06:45:43 AM »
Article about the research in #96:

Scientists estimate there are about 1,500 billion metric tons of carbon locked away in Arctic permafrost, and that 5 to 15 percent of this carbon could be emitted as carbon dioxide by 2100 — enough to increase global temperatures 0.3 to 0.4 degrees Celsius. But these estimates do not include the CO2 that forms when permafrost carbon escapes into Arctic lakes and rivers and is oxidized by ultraviolet and visible light, a process known as photomineralization.

Researchers at the University of Michigan studied organic carbon from six different Arctic locations and found that substantial carbon dioxide emissions could be released through photomineralization — enough to raise permafrost-related CO2 emissions by 14 percent.
“Only recently have global climate models included greenhouse gases from thawing permafrost soils. But none of them contain this feedback pathway,”

Þetta minnismerki er til vitnis um að við vitum hvað er að gerast og hvað þarf að gera. Aðeins þú veist hvort við gerðum eitthvað.


  • Young ice
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Re: Permafrost general science thread
« Reply #102 on: July 01, 2020, 03:09:45 AM »
Beavers Gnawing Away at the Arctic Permafrost

Alaska's beavers are profiting from climate change, and spreading rapidly. In just a few years' time, they have not only expanded into many tundra regions where they'd never been seen before; they're also building more and more dams in their new homes, creating a host of new water bodies. This could accelerate the thawing of the permafrost soils, and therefore intensify climate change, as an International American-German research team reports in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The upper two images are photos taken within the study area in 2016 showing the tundra region setting. The bottom two images are taken from similar tundra across Hotham Inlet in 2015 (lower left) and 2011 (lower right) showing beaver dams in a drained lake basin outlet and along a beaded stream course, respectively.

... Back in 2018, Ingmar Nitze and Guido Grosse from the AWI, together with colleagues from the U.S., determined that the beavers living in an 18,000-square-kilometer section of northwest Alaska had created 56 new lakes in just five years. For their new study, the team from the AWI, the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, and the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis have now taken a closer look at this trend. Using detailed satellite data and extended time series, the experts tracked the beavers' activities in two other regions in Alaska—and were surprised by what they found.

"Of course, we knew that the beavers there had spread substantially over the last few decades," says Nitze. This is partly due to climate change; thanks to rising temperatures, now more and more habitats offer the shrubs that the animals need for food and building material. Furthermore, the lakes, which used to freeze solid, now offer beaver-friendlier conditions, thanks to their thinner seasonal winter ice cover. Lastly, the rodents aren't hunted as intensively as in the past. As a result, it's a good time to be a beaver in the Arctic.

"But we never would have dreamed they would seize the opportunity so intensively," says Nitze. The high-resolution satellite images of the roughly 100-square-kilometer study area near the town of Kotzebue reveal the scale of the animals' activities there. From just two dams in 2002, the number had risen to 98 by 2019—a 5,000-percent increase, with more than 5 new dams being constructed per year. And the larger area surveyed, which covers the entire northern Baldwin Peninsula, also experienced a beaver dam boom. According to Nitze, "We're seeing exponential growth there. The number of these structures doubles roughly every four years."

This has already affected the water balance. Apparently, the rodents intentionally do their work in those parts of the landscape that they can most easily flood. To do so, sometimes they dam up small streams, and sometimes the outlets of existing lakes, which expand as a result. "But they especially prefer drained lake basins," Benjamin Jones, lead author of the study, and Nitze report. In many cases, the bottoms of these former lakes are prime locations for beaver activity. "The animals have intuitively found that damming the outlet drainage channels at the sites of former lakes is an efficient way to create habitat. So a new lake is formed which degrades ice-rich permafrost in the basin, adding to the effect of increasing the depth of the engineered waterbody," added Jones. These actions have their consequences: in the course of the 17-year timeframe studied, the overall water area in the Kotzebue region grew by 8.3 percent. And roughly two-thirds of that growth was due to the beavers.

The researchers suspect that there have been similar construction booms in other regions of the Arctic; accordingly, they now want to expand their 'beaver manhunt' across the Arctic. "The growth in Canada, for example, is most likely even more extreme," says Nitze. And each additional lake thaws the permafrost below it and on its banks. Granted, the frozen soil could theoretically bounce back after a few years, when the beaver dams break; but whether or not the conditions will be sufficiently cold for that to happen is anyone's guess.

Mapping beaver dams in high-resolution satellite imagery available for the northern Baldwin Peninsula, Alaska. The location of individual dams indicated with red arrow and the flow direction with a light blue arrow. (a) A series of four dams at the outlet of a lake, (b) a ~60 m long dam built in a drained lake basin, (c) a series of dams at the outlet of a lake near a confluence with a beaded stream, (d) a series of dams in a channel running through the middle of a drained lake basin, (e) five dams progressing down the outlet channel of a thermokarst lake, and (f) a series of dams in a beaded stream gulch. Examples shown here taken from 2019 images; note differences in scale across image frames. All dams were constructed after 2002.

Benjamin M. Jones et al, Increase in beaver dams controls surface water and thermokarst dynamics in an Arctic tundra region, Baldwin Peninsula, northwestern Alaska, Environmental Research Letters (2020).
“There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see.” ― Leonardo da Vinci

Insensible before the wave so soon released by callous fate. Affected most, they understand the least, and understanding, when it comes, invariably arrives too late