Arctic Melting: How Climate Change is Destroying One of the Worlds Largest Wilderness Areas
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Instability of slopes in permafrost at elevated temperatures near freezing point in warming permafrost is related to effective stress and buildup of pore-water pressure in these soils. They extended the use of effective stress concept to partially frozen soils for use in slope stability analysis of warming permafrost slopes. The use of effective stress concept has many advantages such as ability to extend the concepts of "Critical State Soil Mechanics" into frozen ground engineering.
In the northern circumpolar region, permafrost contains billion tons of organic material equaling almost half of all organic material in all soils. The amount of carbon sequestered in permafrost is four times the carbon that has been released to the atmosphere due to human activities in modern time. Formation of permafrost has significant consequences for ecological systems, primarily due to constraints imposed upon rooting zones, but also due to limitations on den and burrow geometries for fauna requiring subsurface homes.
Secondary effects impact species dependent on plants and animals whose habitat is constrained by the permafrost. One of the most widespread examples is the dominance of Black Spruce in extensive permafrost areas, since this species can tolerate rooting pattern constrained to the near surface. One gram of soil from the active layer may include more than one billion bacteria cells. The number of bacteria in permafrost soil varies widely, typically from 1 to million per gram of soil. The Arctic region is one of the many natural sources of the greenhouse gas methane.
Permafrost and clathrates degrade on warming, thus large releases of methane from these sources may arise as a result of global warming. A hypothesis forwarded by Sergey Zimov is that the reduction of herds of large herbivores has increased the ratio of energy emission and energy absorption tundra energy balance in a manner that increases the tendency for net thawing of permafrost.
According to IPCC Fifth Assessment Report there is high confidence that permafrost temperatures have increased in most regions since the early s. It is thought that permafrost thawing could exacerbate global warming by releasing methane and other hydrocarbons , which are powerful greenhouse gases. Arctic temperatures are expected to increase at roughly twice the global rate.
Estimates vary on how many tons of greenhouse gases are emitted from thawed permafrost soils. One estimate suggests that — billion tons of CO 2 equivalents about half from carbon dioxide and the other half from methane will be emitted by , and — billion tons by For comparison, the anthropogenic emission of all greenhouse gases in is approximately 48 billion tons of CO 2 equivalents.
It convenes International Permafrost Conferences, undertakes special projects such as preparing databases, maps, bibliographies, and glossaries, and coordinates international field programmes and networks. Among other issues addressed by the IPA are: Problems for construction on permafrost owing to the change of soil properties of the ground on which structures are placed and the biological processes in permafrost, e. Building on permafrost is difficult because the heat of the building or pipeline can thaw the permafrost and destabilize the structure. Three common solutions include: Permafrost may necessitate special enclosures for buried utilities, called " utilidors ".
Arctic warming: scientists alarmed by 'crazy' temperature rises | Environment | The Guardian
Modern buildings in permafrost zones may be built on piles to avoid permafrost-thaw foundation failure from the heat of the building. Heat pipes in vertical supports maintain a frozen bulb around portions of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline that are at risk of thawing. Pile foundations in Yakutsk , a city underlain with continuous permafrost. In , Russian researchers proved that permafrost can serve as a natural repository for ancient life forms by reviving of Silene stenophylla from 30, year old tissue found in an Ice Age squirrel burrow in the Siberian permafrost.
This is the oldest plant tissue ever revived.
Arctic warming: scientists alarmed by 'crazy' temperature rises
The plant was fertile, producing white flowers and viable seeds. The study demonstrated that tissue can survive ice preservation for tens of thousands of years. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about frozen ground. For other uses, see Permafrost disambiguation. Ice wedges seen from top. Above-ground utility lines in a permafrost zone avoid thawing of ground. Archived from the original on 23 February Retrieved 23 February Retrieved December 2, — via ClimateWire.
Thawing Arctic tundra will likely speed up climate change for a century or more. Scientific American December Retrieved December 2, Explicit use of et al. How severe during the 21st century? Understanding Glaciers and Glaciation. A review, —" , Permafrost: Frozen ground engineering 2nd ed.
The Physical Science Basis". Retrieved April 12, Freeze at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. The Periglacial Environment 3 ed.
Fundamentals of Physical Geography. South African Journal of Science, Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union. The New York Times. Here and there, roadside utility poles destabilized by the melting tilt at crazy angles. So do trees, creating a phenomenon known as drunken forest. The Val Pola Landslide". Permafrost and Periglacial Processes. June , "Ice thawing, mountains falling; are alpine rock slope failures increasing?
May , "Frozen debris lobe morphology and movement: Recent rockfalls and rock avalanches in Mount Cook national park, New Zealand. In Catastrophic landslides, effects, occurrence and mechanisms. Choosing geotechnical parameters for slope stability assessments in alpine permafrost soils. In 9th international conference on permafrost. Alpha Adroit Engineering Ltd. Retrieved 27 January Michael Hogan, Black Spruce: Picea mariana , GlobalTwitcher. Isotopic implications for source pathways and ages".
Journal of Geophysical Research. Permafrost and the global carbon budget". Implications for the marine methane cycle". Journal of Marine Systems. Quaternary Science Reviews , vol. Archived from the original PDF on 4 March Retrieved 17 October Zimov 6 May Return of the Mammoth's Ecosystem.
Science , pages — Article also to be found in www. Retrieved 5 May The question now is whether this signals a weakening or collapse of the polar vortex, the circle of strong winds that keep the Arctic cold by deflecting other air masses. The vortex depends on the temperature difference between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, but that gap is shrinking because the pole is warming faster than anywhere on Earth. While average temperatures have increased by about 1C, the warming at the pole — closer to 3C — is melting the ice mass. According to Nasa , Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of Longer term, Rohde expects more variation.
Shifting rain and snow — melt and frost make the surface icy and therefore difficult for animals to find anything to eat. Living conditions in such shifting weather types are very difficult. Others caution that it is premature to see this as a major shift away from forecasts. If anything, climate models suggest the opposite is true, that high-latitude winters will be slightly less variable as the world warms.
Although it is too soon to know whether overall projections for Arctic warming should be changed, the recent temperatures add to uncertainty and raises the possibility of knock-on effects accelerating climate change. Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. Loading comments… Trouble loading? Will giant cruise ships destroy the wonders their passengers claim to love?
Guides who shot a polar bear have been denounced as murderers. But what does that make the tourists who are ruining its fragile habitat? Naked geology, dazzling light… my journey into the Arctic.