Due to global warming, the permafrost (the soil that should always be frozen) in the Arctic does not freeze anymore during winter. Thus, it remains damp and humming. Researchers have noticed this phenomenon and they draw attention to the danger this phenomenon pose.
Permafrost stores billions of tons of carbon, which will reach the atmosphere in the form of greenhouse gases: methane and carbon dioxide. The release of these gases will have add an extra speed to already accelerating climate warming. Experts’ warning comes after a study made by Russian researchers. Nikita Zimov coordinated a team of scientists who dug the soil in the Cherskiy area in northern Siberia. Here is one of the coolest places on the planet. During most winters, the average temperature drops to -34 degrees Celsius.
However, in April, when the excavations took place, the soil in the area was soft and damp, not frozen, as it was expected. According to estimates made by geologists, there are now more than 1,500 billion tonnes of carbon in the Permafrost. That is more than twice as much as the quantity found in the atmosphere.
If this particular soil melts, the microbes begin to consume the organic matter from it and thus release the carbon in the atmosphere, like methane gas and carbon dioxide.
In the same area where Professor Zimov did the study, a team of researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Germany found that the level of snow dropped up to 50% in the last 5 years.
The snow isolates the soil and protects it from heating, thus preventing its melting. The tests have shown that the temperature in permafrost, at a depth of 30 cm, has increased by 6 degrees Celsius in the period of time between 2013 and 2018. That happened due to the fact that the amount of snow above it has been greatly reduced.