Threat of thawing permafrost in Siberia too serious to turn away from!

Following details recently published by an international scientific research team in the Science journal, it has been estimated that a 1.5 degree Celsius rise in our global atmosphere would have the potential to trigger a mass thawing process of the Permafrost Frontier in Siberia. This would result in trillions of tonnes of greenhouse gases, large amounts of Co2 and methane being released into the Earth’s atmosphere.

The evidence for these findings are coming from caves on the Permafrost Frontier which scientists use for their research, using the formations of stalagmites and stalactites as indicators of what effect gradual global warming is having on arctic fronts such as Siberia.

Dr Anton Vaks, of the University of Oxford, spoke of how these formations give an indicator of how the climate has changed over the space of around 500,000 years, and how they are used to see what effects warmer periods over the last several thousand years, where the global temperature has fluctuated at points in times gone by, are having on the present day climate.

“The stalactites and stalagmites from these caves are a way of looking back in time to see how warm periods similar to our modern climate affect how far permafrost extends across Siberia.

“As permafrost covers 24% of the land surface across the Northern Hemisphere, significant thawing could affect vast areas and release (billions of tonnes) of carbon.”

More worryingly for those in the permafrost regions in Siberia, the immediate effects of parts of the frontier thawing would have a catastrophic effect on the landscape, and, therefore, for the livelihoods of people living in the area. The effects that thawing could do to the area could destroy homes, businesses, roads and power sources that are vital in the harsh climates of Siberia.

Just as worrying as this is the knowledge that the very same thing is happening across the globe, and recent discoveries in Antarctica revealed that melting icecaps around the South Pole are known to be releasing ancient and harmful gases into the atmosphere.

We see every single day people telling us to lower our Carbon footprint, and that certain small things can start to make a big difference for our future, and in the wake of information such as this, although it has been said many times, it doesn’t always take the research of a science team to tell you that the effects on our climate and, therefore, the Earth’s landscape, are only going to get bigger and much more significant.

Ice Caps of the polar regions in the North and South, and permafrost frontiers such as the one in Siberia are key in establishing the environmental balance in our atmospheric climate and, in particular, the balance of the currents of our planet’s oceans. Our oceans currently depend on a delicate balance of salt water and fresh water. However, the thawing of vast segments of ice in Siberia, along with the rapidly diminishing Polar Ice Caps in the Arctic Ocean and Antarctica, will result in large quantities of fresh water being dumped into what is already a delicate current system, and a system that is becoming ever more unsettled and pushed to the edge of wiping itself out.

What some people conveniently choose not to recognise is that its not just the general temperature of our controversial British summers. The simple fact of the matter is that planet Earth is in the process of atmospheric and climatic corrosion. The domino effect that global warming is having on ice-covered regions of the globe, our planets ocean currents and the resulting dramatic weather will soon start to take its toll on things such we take for granted to the extent that we don’t realise how much our way of life relies upon them.

BY: Robert Pritchard