The melting of Arctic ice frozen for many thousands or even millions of years is speeding up, a potential route for carbon frozen deep below ground level to seep into the atmosphere, reports Tim Radford at Climate News Network. Tundra domes and lakes of frozen water, holding dissolved organic carbon, start to melt with spring thaw. Then microbes start releasing carbon dioxide into the air. The soil thaws, the surface collapses, lakes form, water flows, land surfaces erode which in turn releases more carbon dioxide to create more warming, to make the tundra even more vulnerable to spring thaw, and to accelerated warming. And it’s all happening now, according to a new study published in the science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They analysed water from 34 Alaskan sites, places that had been frozen anywhere from 10,000 to two million years. Fringing Arctic permafrost has been melting for millenia. The hazard lies in the acceleration of this process: much carbon is stored in the Arctic tundra as a greenhouse gas source, and how much of it will be released as the world warms, is anyone’s guess.
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Thawing tundra threat to frozen carbon February 11, 2013 Huge stores of carbon frozen deep below ground in the Arctic could start to reach the atmosphere as ancient ice melts and allows warmth to penetrate the soil. Climate News Network http://www.climatenewsnetwork.net/2013/02/thawing-tundra-threat-to-frozen-carbon/