10/30/2012 7:16 AM
A study published published 7 August (in Harden, J. W., et al. (2012), Field information links permafrost carbon to physical vulnerabilities of thawing, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L15704, doi:10.1029/2012GL051958) indicates that thawing tundra has “the potential for strong additional loading to our atmosphere, water resources, and ecosystems” and provides ranges.
According to Homeland Security News Wire’s write-up of the study, “As much as forty-four billion tons of nitrogen and 850 billion tons of carbon stored in arctic permafrost, or frozen ground, could be released into the environment as the region begins to thaw over the next century as a result of a warmer planet; for context, this is roughly the amount of carbon stored in the atmosphere today”. The carbon numbers support other studies and the nitrogen numbers provide an initial value for future predictions.
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