The northern permafrost could suffer from a rapid meltdown, as opposed to the gradual one that was expected.
This sudden warming only happens beneath thermokarst lakes, which form as the permafrost melts.
Among the implications of this event is the risk of freeing a large quantity of methane. The northern permafrost holds one of the largest reserves of organic carbon in the world. If melted, the microorganisms found there could transform the carbon into climate-changing gases.
Scientists foresee that the phenomena more than doubles the previous thought-of quantity of methane that will be released from the permafrost in the nearby future.
Instead of waiting for a couple of centuries for the effects of permafrost meltdown to happen, we can now expect an acceleration in the thawing that will lead to the large releases of methane being released within our lifetime.
Also, the scientists discovered that the sudden thawing accelerated the defrosting of carbon from the ground to about 150%, comparing to what was expected before. Therefore, even if we adopt a greener lifestyle, methane can still have a high chance of being released.
As the scientists had foreseen the slower process to happen, it could have had a small effect on climate change because the warm ground could have jump-started plant growth, which would, in turn, eat up the carbon resulted from thawing through photosynthesis.
Near the lakes resulted from permafrost thawing, this process happens much faster. Scientists found methane being released from more than 70 places in Siberia and Alaska.
Thermokarst lakes take shape because of frozen water from the depths get heated above 0C.
Due to the fact that liquid water is denser than ice, the surface creates a dimple that starts collecting more and more water.
As the study goes, the thermokarst lakes accelerate the melting of the permafrost, therefore expanding the lakes much faster than originally foreseen.
Patrick Supernaw is the lead editor for Great Lakes Ledger. Patrick has written for many publications including The Huffington Post and Vanity Fair. Patrick is based in Ottawa and covers issues affecting his city. In addition to his severe hockey addiction, Pat also enjoys kayaking and can often be found paddling the Rideau Canal. Contact Pat here