Tundra May Be Shifting Alaska to Put Out More Carbon Than It Stores, Study Says

May 10, 2017

By Henry Fountain

As global warming continues, a big unknown is what will happen to the carbon balance between the atmosphere and the land, especially in the far north. Will Arctic and near-Arctic regions continue to take more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through plant activity than they release, or will they release more than they store?

A new study suggests that Alaska, with its huge stretches of tundra and forest, may be shifting from a net sink, or storehouse, of carbon to a net source. The study focused on one possible cause: warmer temperatures that keep the Arctic tundra from freezing until later in the fall, allowing plant respiration and microbial decomposition — processes that release carbon dioxide — to continue longer.

Roisin Commane, a researcher at Harvard, and others studied atmospheric carbon dioxide in the state, using measurements from aircraft and a 40-year record from sensors operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Barrow, in the North Slope Borough.

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2 comments on “Tundra May Be Shifting Alaska to Put Out More Carbon Than It Stores, Study Says

  • @OP – A new study suggests that Alaska, with its huge stretches of tundra and forest, may be shifting from a net sink, or storehouse, of carbon to a net source. The study focused on one possible cause: warmer temperatures that keep the Arctic tundra from freezing until later in the fall, allowing plant respiration and microbial decomposition — processes that release carbon dioxide — to continue longer.

    That is one of the threshold feedback risks of man made global warming!

    If the huge Arctic permafrost carbon sinks thaw, and bacteria break down the peat, or it dries out and burns, huge amounts of CO2 will be released into the atmosphere!
    There are also substantial frozen methane deposits which could be liberated by thawing!



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  • Meanwhile the money greedy climate-change-denying village idiots, are trying to invent new ways of leaking methane into the atmosphere, and generating CO2!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-39971667

    China has for the first time extracted gas from an ice-like substance under the South China Sea considered key to future global energy supply.

    Chinese authorities have described the success as a major breakthrough.

    Methane hydrates, also called “flammable ice”, hold vast reserves of natural gas.

    Many countries including the US and Japan are working on how to tap those reserves, but mining and extracting are extremely difficult.
    Officially known as methane clathrates or hydrates, they are formed at very low temperatures and under high pressure.
    They can be found in sediments under the ocean floor as well as underneath permafrost on land.

    Despite the low temperature, these hydrates are flammable.
    If you hold a lighter to them, the gas encapsulated in the ice will catch fire. Hence, they are also known as “fire ice” or “flammable ice”.

    By lowering the pressure or raising the temperature, the hydrates break down into water and methane – a lot of methane. One cubic metre of the compound releases about 160 cubic metres of gas, making it a highly energy-intensive fuel.

    Methane from clathrate, is also thought to have been released by past global warming causing the the Permian–Triassic extinction event, when up to 96% of all marine species became extinct, 252 million years ago.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clathrate_gun_hypothesis

    The sudden release of large amounts of natural gas from methane clathrate deposits in runaway climate change could be a cause of past, future, and present climate changes.
    The release of this trapped methane is a potential major outcome of a rise in temperature; some have suggested that this was a main factor in the global warming of 6 °C that happened during the end-Permian extinction




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