The melting of the arctic frozen subsoil, the “permafrost”, threatens to significantly affect the overheating and should be taken into account into account in upcoming climate models. This Tuesday it was recommended in the United Nations Program for the Environment (UNEP) in Doha.
Because of the rapid rising of temperatures in the Arctic, the permafrost “is already melting,” said Kevin Schaefer, a researcher at the University of Colorado and lead author of the subject for UNEP.
Permafrost represents about a quarter of the land area in the Northern Hemisphere. Globally it contains 1.7 billion tons of carbon, about twice as much CO2 in the atmosphere. According to Schaefer if this organic material melts, it will slowly release all carbon accumulated and “neutralized” over the centuries. “Once it starts to melt, the process is irreversible. There is no way to recapture the carbon released. ”
The problem lies in the excess of CO2 released into the atmosphere, because it has never been included in the projections on global warming. If the permafrost melts, it will produce the equivalent of 43.000 to 135.000 million tons of additional CO2 in 2020, representing 39% of total emissions to today’s date.