One of the world’s leading climate scientists has said today that the permafrost, the frozen earth that hides under 25% of the northern hemisphere’s surface, could be warming much quicker than previously thought.
This permafrost locks billions of tonnes of methane in its icy grasp. If it thaws, this methane will be released into the atmosphere, and make the climate change that’s causing ruin now for coastal communities and farmers look insignificant.
Prof Vladimir Romanovsky said the permafrost in parts of Alaska would start to thaw by 2070. His conclusion is based on seeing stark rises in permafrost temperatures in the last ten years.
“When we started measurements it was -8C, but now it’s coming to almost -2.5 on the Arctic coast. It is unbelievable – that’s the temperature we should have here in central Alaska around Fairbanks but not there.”
Carbon emissions and human impact on climate is accelerating the thaw, which could lead to catastrophic climate change. That’s why the negotiations that are happening today in Bonn, and the summit in Paris in December, are crucial. The best way to wrestle back control of the speed of the thaw is by reducing our emissions. And the quickest, cheapest, and most efficient way to do that? Halting deforestation.