Arctic permafrost thaw might be even more potent than we thought

UPDATE March 19th 2018. There is a new study published […]

Post Author:

Climate State

Date Posted:

March 16, 2018

UPDATE March 19th 2018. There is a new study published after we released this video, it shines more light onto the subject of thawed soil carbon activation. The Arctic’s carbon bomb might be even more potent than we thought https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/03/19/the-arctics-carbon-bomb-might-be-even-more-potent-than-we-thought Direct study link https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-018-0095-z.epdf

Transcript

The trend from frozen tundra soils shifting to thermokarst erosion and thaw ponds, may in the future be exacerbated by increased rainfall and extreme weather events. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/lol2.10063/epdf and http://www.inrs.ca/english/actualites/thawing-permafrost-causing-browning-northern-lakes

What just a few years ago was considered to be unrealistic has become true, much larger areas of permafrost begin to melt, releasing organic carbon trapped in ice for ages. The message today, thawing of permafrost is more widespread, and faster than anticiapted. Once thawed, soils can turn to lakes or ponds often with an altered biogeochemistry, one that favors additional production of greenhouse gases.

The new study “Increasing dominance of terrigenous organic matter in circumpolarfreshwaters due to permafrost thaw”, published in March 2018 found that organic carbon from permafrost melting is making its way into the waters of the regions. This particular type of carbon is good at absorbing sunlight, creating conditions for additional heating of surrounding soils, and to boost activity of methane producing microbes. As a result, water bodies are getting increasingly darker and stratified, which affects a number of biological processes in these ecosystems.

The authors write, “Our results demonstrate a strong terrestrial imprint on freshwater ecosystems in degrading ice-rich permafrost catchments, and the likely shift toward increasing dominance of land-derived organic carbon in waters with ongoing permafrost thaw.” Some of the affected regions resemble what could be a scenery from a science fiction movie with aliens. Entire landscapes with clusters of thaw ponds, and muddy elevated cracks in between, like tendrils curling up along its edges.

Northern permafrost regions contain one of the largest pools of carbon in the Earth system. Microbial metabolism thrives in many of these lakes and ponds that receive dissolved and particulate organic carbon from eroding permafrost soils. Thaw ponds alone account for approximately 25% of the estimated total area covered by all lakes and ponds in the Arctic.

Many of these waterbodies are created by thermokarst, through erosion and collapse of ice-rich permafrost, resulting in the thaw ponds. While in some parts of the Arctic landscape, these ponds are disappearing by drainage, evaporation, or infilling, in other northern regions they are becoming larger and more numerous. And many thaw ponds are hotspots for strong emissions of greenhousegases to the atmosphere.

Our understanding today suggests that thaw ponds are likely to become more turbid and heterotrophic with increasing carbon inputs from thawing permafrost soils. A heterotroph is an organism that ingests or absorbs organic carbon. Thaw ponds contain high amounts of dissolved organic matter, and the research hints at higher amounts than in waterbodies not affected by thermokarst processes.

See also  Gavin Schmidt: The emergent patterns of climate change

Additional, thaw ponds characteristics include a low amount of algae production, with phytoplankton delta c thirteen isotopic signatures more negative when compared to non-thaw ponds. One explanation for this finding are elevated concentrations of methane. The large amount of dissolved organic matter in these water bodies decreases the light availability for photosynthesis, resulting in a shift toward a heterotrophic production-based food web, and with a high production of CO2 and CH4 (methane).

Due to the fractionation during methanogenesis, a separation process in which a certain quantity of a mixture (gas, solid, liquid, enzymes, suspension, or isotope) is divided during a phase transition, into a number of smaller quantities (fractions), methane has more negative delta C thirteen values. Fractionation in turn makes the methane able to be metabolized by methanotrophic bacteria (prokaryotes), the precursor methanogenesis, is the formation of methane by microbes under the right conditions.

The mixotrophic algae phytoplankton community is growing in thaw ponds, and possibly dependent on the methanotrophic bacteria as an energy source.

The dark water surfaces of thaw ponds, rich in organic matter, absorb much more sunlight, hence increase the landscape albedo, and thus present another phenomena similar to the darkening observed in parts at Greenland’s glacier surfaces by particulates or tiny algae, or through the disappearing Arctic sea ice.

This trend from frozen tundra soils shifting to thermokarst erosion and thaw ponds, may in the future be exacerbated by increased rainfall and extreme weather events, toward net heterotrophic conditions, with increased dissolved organic matter, oxygen depletion, and a greater production of greenhouse gases across the circumpolar North.

NASA map of soil degradation https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=89434

Photo, Tundra Fire, Kaminak Lake Area http://www.prairie.illinois.edu/shilts/gallery/shilts-0053.shtml

Horn Lake thermokarst https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVKsZhrsAec

Icicle melting by Jeffrey Beach (Beachfront Productions) https://archive.org/details/IcicleMelting

Permafrost warming Svalbard graphic https://twitter.com/Ketil_Isaksen/status/823788018213552128

Further reading

As the climate warms, the carbon balance of arctic ecosystems will respond in two opposing ways:
Plants will grow faster, leading to a carbon sink, while thawing permafrost will lead to decomposition
and loss of soil carbon.
https://www.amap.no/documents/doc/snow-water-ice-and-permafrost-in-the-arctic-swipa-2017/1610

The results presented here—that large C losses are possible from the permafrost region, whose magnitude is strongly governed by the dynamics of deeper decomposition, and that large losses are unlikely to be compensated by N fertilization accompanying decomposition—underscore the importance of considering permafrost carbon dynamics in ESMs. Permafrost soils may produce a strong, albeit delayed, C response to global change, and must therefore be included in assessments of long-term C cycle feedbacks to climate change.
http://www.pnas.org/content/112/12/3752

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Climate State covers the broad spectrum of climate change, and the solutions, since around 2011 with the focus on the sciences. Views expressed on this site or on social media are not necessarily the views by Climate State – we endorse data, facts, empirical evidence.

2 Comments

  1. Daniel Ferra March 17, 2018 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    “Other parts of the polar region off the northern coast of Greenland have seen temperatures 30C higher than normal for February”.

    Just digest that number for a minute.

    What would you do if you woke up tomorrow and the temperature was 30C higher than normal ?

    I’ll quote “President Niinistö in North Russia: ‘If We Lose the Arctic, We Lose the World’.

    what it’s worth I’ll continue to chronicle the unraveling of the biosphere but I don’t expect it to hold together much longer.

    The sea ice in the Arctic is retreating from the melting temperatures from both the ocean and atmospheric anomalies.

    Soon the sun will rise in the Arctic and put the retreat on steroids and we are still 7 months away from the traditional low period.

    Will we see the 50 gigatonne methane release that has been predicted by Dr’s Shakova and Smiletov from the University of Fairnbanks in Alaska. Only time will tell and time has run out.” Kevin Hester

    “Human-Caused Climate Change is Causing the Most Powerful Hurricanes to Grow Stronger.

    That’s why scientists are now mulling over adding a new category to define the world’s most destructive storms: Category 6.

    Advanced by scientists meeting with Dr. Michael Mann in New Zealand and alluded to for the past few years in cutting edge blogs like Weather Underground,

    A 6th Category would be used to define storms with top sustained wind speeds that exceed 200 mph. Robert Scribbler

    A large area around the North Pole is forecast be up to 30°C or 54°F warmer than 1979-2000 on February 5, 2018.” Sam Carana

    But it has been enhanced by more than a century of people externalizing the environmental costs of stupendous economic growth, loading the atmosphere now with
    42 percent more carbon dioxide,
    240 percent more methane,
    20 percent more nitrous oxide,
    42 percent more tropospheric ozone, etc.
    We have far too much gaseous carbon compounds now in our atmosphere, people.
    The carbon pollution is, by the way, making our oceans too acidic, an 3x more Mercury, threatening the base of the marine food chain. ” Jason E. Box

    “Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters:
    In 2017, there were 16 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States.
    These events included
    1 drought event,
    2 flooding events,
    1 freeze event,
    8 severe storm events,
    3 tropical cyclone events, and
    1 wildfire event.
    Overall, these events resulted in the deaths of 362 people and had significant economic effects on the areas impacted.” NOOA

    Arctic sea ice could be gone by September 2018.’ Sam Carana

    Each 1C. Temp Rise, Atmospheric Moisture increases 7%
    We have increased Global Temps 1.9C. and Climbing, since the 1700s
    Sandy, Katrina, Irma, Maria, an Harvey had 19% to 49% more Record Rain, Record Winds, Record Sea Suges,

    Our New Normal
    Record Rain, Record Snow, Record
    Highs Record Lows
    Record Winds, Record Waves,
    Record Fires, Record Floods,
    Record Hurricanes, Record
    Tsunamis,Record Typhoons,
    Record Earthquakes, Record Mud
    Slides, an Record Sea Surges.

    Christopher C. Burt, ” the highest reliably recorded temperature on Earth is still at Death Valley, it is 54.0 °C (129.2 °F) recorded on 30 June 2013.

    53.9 °C (129.0 °F) was recorded another four times: 20 July 1960, 18 July 1998, 20 July 2005, and 7 July 2007.

    Aug 15, 2012 – “According to Weather Underground, the city of Needles, California, recently experienced what is believed to be the hottest rainfall on record 115°F.”

    A 2015 heat wave that killed at least 3,500 in India and Pakistan saw wet-bulb temperatures around 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius).

    A similar wet-bulb temperature was reached during the 1995 Chicago heat wave.” Steven Leahy

    A temperature of 94 degrees Fahrenheit (34.4 degrees Celsius) and 80% humidity produces a wet-bulb or “feels like” temperature of 129 degrees Fahrenheit (53.9 degrees Celsius) on the NOAA National Weather Service Heat Index.

    Methane which is Natural Gas + Carbon + Water Vapor = Global Warming

    Methane which is Natural Gas + Carbon + Water Vapor = Global Warming

    Methane holds 4 Times More Water Vapor than Carbon

    “The 20 year global warming potential of methane is 86. That is, over a 20 year period, it traps 86 times more heat per mass unit than carbon dioxide” IPPC

    “This means that injecting 1 kg of CH4 into the atmosphere today would have 86 times more atmospheric warming effect over the next 20 years than injecting 1 kg of CO2.” ACS Chemistry for life.

    Then after 20 years it goes down to Methane GWP 34 for the next 100 years

    These figures are conservative

    Sam Carana “the 10 year holding more heat trapping mass and holding four times more water vapor than Carbon,

    Methane GWP 130 at 10 years,”

    This is why it is so hot in the Arctic 30C. – 40C. above Normal are Jet Stream is Lobed and it is melting in the Arctic NOW

    Astoundingly Truthful.

    That means 130 times more heat trapping mass and 4 times more water vapor than Carbon, is the Main Driver of Global Warming, Abrupt climate Change, Sea Level Rising over 220 feet, Faster Than They Say, Faster Than you think !

    We are filling the Full Effects of what Bush-Cheney an Obama emitted in 1908

    There is now a veil of Methane accumulating is the Stratosphere.

    Isostatic Rebounding of Greenlands Tectonic Plate, affecting (Gakkels Rift), causing Earthquakes in the Arctic, as well as Venting Mantle Methane

    Arctic News Sept. 15 2013
    “ As more ice melts away on Greenland and more water runs off in the Ocean and Sea, There is less weight on Greenlands Crust, the Crust Bouncing back from the lighter weight.

    The Crust bouncing back during Large Melts an effect called Isostatic Rebounding.

    This Rebounding can not Only Trigger Earthquakes and Landslides, it can also Suck Up the Magma from the Mantle.

    It Also Sucks Up Magma From The Mantle.

    It also Sucks Up Mantle Methane !

    Triggering Volcanic Eruptions and Venting Mantle Methane”. Sam Carana

    No one has the numbers for Pingos Venting, nor Perma Frost Melting, or Methane Hydrates, Fracking, let alone Isostatic Reboundings Global Numbers, All This Venting and Emitting, of Methane + The 40 -50 Billion Tons of Carbon emitted Globally each year

    An ideal Carbon Atmosphere, would be at 300 parts per million

    1700s to 1800s ppm Carbon 260ppm – 280ppm

    1980s ppm carbon 350

    2015s ppm of Carbon 405

    2017 ppm of Carbon 409.35 and Rising

    “I will show you the rise in CO2 levels every 5 years from 1958 to Dec. 2017. I will also show the CO2 difference beside it from the previous reading. Each reading is taken in the March of the respective year.
    Year…………………….CO2 Levels……………Growth
    1958……………………315.71…………………..<4.0
    1963……………………319.86…………………..4.15
    1968……………………323.89…………………..4.03
    1973……………………330.30…………………..6.41
    1978……………………336.66…………………..6.36
    1983……………………343.33…………………..6.67
    1988……………………352.41…………………..9.08
    1993……………………358.47…………………..6.06
    1998……………………367.24…………………..8.77
    2003……………………376.46…………………..9.22
    2008……………………386.03…………………..9.57
    2013……………………397.43…………………..11.40
    2017……………………409.01…………………..12.42

    "The last entry is early since it is not yet March 2018.

    This shows the ever increasing growth of CO2 levels in our atmosphere.

    Some 2017 figures have shown 410ppm over the year, giving an increase of nearly 1ppm per month."

    Can society even exist in it's current form at 600ppm CO2 concentration ?

    I know the planet has been at that level before, but it took tens of thousands of years to get there and back again, not 250 years.

    Add in the CH4 levels, and you have an equivalence of ~580ppm already." Mark Bevis

    The Main Priority Now Should be to Decommission and Relocate to Above 3,000 Feet,

    450 Nuclear Reactors at Sea Level Now.

    1,200 Nuclear Fuel Rod Facilities at Sea Level Now.

    How long before 5 feet of Greenlands 20
    Feet of Sea Level Rise Fukushimatizes us ? 2020 ? 2022 ? ?

    "In the 1990s, the rising sea doubled its previous rate, reaching about an inch a decade, said Sweet. And then, over the past 10 years, tide gauges in Fernandina Beach, Mayport and Key West recorded an increase of about 0.9 centimeters per year, a little more than a third of an inch per year.” James Cox

    Sea Level Rise is accelerating, could just 5 feet of Greenlands 20 feet of Sea Level Rise, melt before 2000, or 2022

    Fukushimatizing US and the World ?

    Greenland Keeps the Northern Hemisphere in Ice and Snow Now.

    From the 1700s to 2000 – 30 percent of the Arctic Melted

    From 2000 to 2015 – 60 percent of the Arctic Melted

    90% of the Arctic is Gone, and what is left is barely any Ice or snow older than 5 years old, and it use to date back Thousands of years, Waxing and Waning in Glaciation.

    Each Day the acceleration of melt continues.

    With Record Winds, Record Droughts, Record Floods, Record Waves, Record Fires,

    Record Highs, Record Lows, Record Rain, Record Snow,

    Until Greenland is Half Melted, Then just Record RAIN, Record Highs, Record Lows, Record Floods, Record Mud Slides, Record Fires, Record Wet Bulb Index,Year after Fukushimas Year

    20 Feet of Sea Level Rise in Greenland

    200 feet of Sea Level Rise in Antarctica

    450 Nuclear Reactors at Sea Level

    1,200 nuclear Fuel rod Facilities at Sea Level

    16,000 Nuclear Warheads

    Already One Fukushima

    Already One Fukushima

    What we have now, is a Broken Up Jet Stream,

    That has been Pierced, and Lobed,

    Because of Mantle Methane, Methane Hydrates, Pingoes, Perma Frost, Fracking, All emitting Methane Now

    and Emitting over 40 – 50 Billion Toxic Tons of Carbon each year Globally.

    All this Hot Gas has Pierced the Jet Stream in to Lobes,

    The Hot Gas Fueled with the Insane Arctic, Greenland, and Antarctic Ice Melts.

    Has Roared its Global Warming Frontal Lobes with Record Setting Temperatures and Record Setting Snow, and Record Setting Rain.

    These Methane, and Carbon Molecules Have Roared Their Increased Water Vapor and Global Warming Gases, That will Set Record Heat, Record Snow, Until Greenland is 1/2 melted.

    Then Just Record Rain and Record Heat,

    Year After Fossil Fuel, Nuclear Radiated Year. (Fukushima) ( 450 Nuclear Reactors at Sea Level ) (1,200 Nuclear Fuel Rod Facilities at Sea Level) Year.

    Kevin Hester "If you compare his conclusions with those of Maria Shakova et-al from the University of Fairbanks Alaska you can see why professor Guy McPherson and I believe this September could be our last after a 50 giga tonne methane release and the attendant collapse of industrial civilization. Huge respect to the field researchers rather than the modelers who all seem to be ‘owned’."

    Methane Burp Or Pingoe Popping Pimple

    The Ocean Floors Crust have been sinking due to the ice melts in Greenland and the Antarctic, and Each 1C. Temp Rise, Atmospheric Moisture increases 7%

    We have increased Global Temps 1.9C. and Climbing, since the 1700s

    Sandy, Katrina, Irma, Maria, an Harvey had 19% to 49% more Record Rains, Record Winds, Record Sea Surges,

    The Mantle is being pressured by all this water, in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, The Mantle is being squeezed in on itself forcing an out in the Arctic, called Pingoes

    and at some point, like Natalia Shakhov, Guy Mcpherson, and Kevin Hester point out, we are going to experience a Methane blow out in the Arctic, from Mantle Methane, Perma-Frost, Methane Hydrates, Pingoes.

    The Methane has been telling us, it is going to blow since 2005 by Maria Shakhov, what was a finger size blow whole in 2005 is now a 200-300 ft. wide blow hole called Pingoes 2015

    And their increasing in number and size in Siberia, North American Plate, and on the Euro-Asian Plate

    Glaciation kept the Mantle Cooler, Mantle is Heating up, The Accelerated Melt is Going to Be Horrendous, Horrific, and Tsunamic 1,500 feet, Way Faster Than they are Saying, Way Faster Than You Think

    Campaign to allow Californian residents to sell electricity obtained by renewable energy for a fair pro-business market price. Will you read, sign, and share this petition?

    We Need a National Feed in Tariff

    It is time to get the Country Ready to Respond, Each Home can be a Beacon, Shining the Light of Hope, Even just for a Few Years, Months, Weeks, Days

    Published on Oct 11, 2014
    Campaign to allow Californian residents to sell electricity obtained by renewable energy for a fair pro-business market price. Will you read, sign, and share this petition?
    https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/let-california-home-owners
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9GRkZMTqCs

See also  Rapid sea-ice loss may increase the rate of Arctic land warming by 3.5 times - affecting permafrost

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