From: NOAA
Published June 13, 2017 08:02 AM

As Alaska's North Slope warms, greenhouse gases have nowhere to go but up

The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) being released from tundra in the northern region of Alaska during early winter has increased 70 percent since 1975, according to a new regional climate paper by scientists participating in a research project funded by NOAA and NASA.

The fate of carbon locked in northern permafrost — vast regions of frozen soil containing undecayed vegetation — is of intense interest to scientists. That’s because these soils contain an estimated 1,330-1,580 billion tons of organic carbon, about twice as much as currently contained in the atmosphere.

When permafrost thaws, carbon can be released to the atmosphere either as methane or CO2. Scientists are concerned that increasing greenhouse gas emissions will accelerate a regional warming trend that could drive a further increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the tundra.

Climate models used in recent climate assessments do not show the early winter carbon release in this region or in other northern tundra regions in the Arctic.


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