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Earth Science

Ticking Arctic Carbon Bomb May Be Bigger Than Expected 339

sciencehabit writes "Scientists are expressing fresh concerns about the carbon locked in the Arctic's vast expanse of frozen soil. New field studies quantify the amount of soil carbon at 1.9 trillion metric tons, suggesting that previous estimates underestimated the climate risk if this carbon is liberated. Meanwhile, a new analysis of laboratory experiments that simulate carbon release by thawed soil is bolstering worries that continued carbon emissions could unleash a massive Arctic carbon wallop."
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Ticking Arctic Carbon Bomb May Be Bigger Than Expected

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  • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @01:44PM (#42226125) Journal

    I'm recovering with a flu so I might have missed something when reading TFA, but this CO2 release seems to be in addition to the expected massive release of methane from frozen Siberian permafrost.

    If so, we're fucked^2 I see no way we can avoid the positive feedback loops of AGW. Sandy will be a pleasant memory from the past, to the citizens of NYC.

  • it's a media game (Score:3, Interesting)

    by teslabox ( 2790587 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @01:54PM (#42226191) Homepage
    the methane in the oceans is much more of a threat. but we could harvest that and burn it off, which would solve two birds with one stone. It is much better to fear-monger over things we can't do anything about.
  • by Mal-2 ( 675116 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @02:50PM (#42226629) Homepage Journal

    One thing that's readily apparent and not disputed is that our planet's temperature takes wild swings [wikipedia.org]. It's seldom stable, which it seems to have been for several thousand years now. Perhaps our resolution isn't good enough or there's too much noise in the historical data, but it would seem that we live in exceptional times. For the whole system to be able to oscillate that widely, and on relatively short timescales, it MUST be sensitive to positive feedback loops. Runaway processes are apparently the rule rather than the exception.

    This is not to say anything one way or the other about the forcing mechanism. I do believe humans have had an awful lot to do with it this time around. What we didn't realize is that it's like Sisyphus rolling the stone uphill. Either he's rolling it slowly and steadily upward, or it's inexorably moving downhill when he loses control. It may start slowly at first, but once it gets going it's nearly impossible to stop.

    I don't think we as a species are totally fucked, but I do think a whole lot of people are going to die before this all settles out.

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:05PM (#42226737)

    I don't see what's so bad about global warming, especially looking out my window right now and seeing snow on the roofs of the outbuildings.

    The eastern USA and NW Europe may be in for another snow-intensive winter because of global warming. If you'd like to take a break from your knee-jerk denialism and actually learn something interesting, pick up a copy of the current Scientific American and read about the mechanism.

  • Re:I'm ready... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @04:25PM (#42227477) Journal

    I am assuming your are British by your post. But in the States the change can be far more drastic and different as we have semi arid and arid climates in the central and western sections. Go google the "Dustbowls"? They almost destroyed the US agriculture in the 1930s as the dust storms swamped crops for thousands of miles.

    Land is leased and owned by investors with 30 year leases. It is changing so quickly you can't just switch crops. In a dry region you could grow corn in a wet year but wheat is a better bet. Now if it is semi arid a dry spell will mean a desert year and it is gone. These land owners are 100,000s in debt and many retirement accounts are invested in land flipping in these areas. If wheat can not be produced everyone losses. I used to live in Alaska and the opposite problem is happening. Winter wheats you think would grow better in milder winters and longer frost free season.

    The problem is your English summers are now farther north. We got maybe 1 good summer of 20 - 25C temperatures for several weeks and weeks and weeks of cold rain that would rot wheat fields. It is getting progressively worse where even potatoes are molding and getting fungus infections from the non stop summer rains. Who cares if the winters are milder as -20C warms to -7C. You can't grow anything in either case. The cooler summers really hurt and is annoying for Alaskas who endured a tough winter and just get 10C rain for 6 weeks straight in their brief summer off of winter.

  • by bunratty ( 545641 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:29PM (#42227985)

    I don't think anyone thinks we can control *whether* coastal cities go underwater. We can just make it happen much more slowly by slowing the rate of warming. Many skeptics think that accepting AGW means thinking that we have complete and total control of the climate, which clearly isn't the case. We can control the part of climate change that is caused by human activities, which at this point seems to be most of the change in the past several decades.

    Likewise, you're going to die some day, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be concerned about your health because you're going to die no matter what you do.

  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @10:52PM (#42230195) Homepage Journal

    Many people haven't gotten the memo, but Exxon Mobil CEO Rex TIllerson has now said that AGW is happening but that the best course of action is to adapt to it.

    Since Exxon Mobil was funding the astroturf denialist organizations, it's surprising that the noise hasn't died out yet. Momentum, maybe?

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @02:28AM (#42231341)

    You do realize that both sides are crying "conspiracy!", right?

    Yes, I recognize that I believe that the energy sector is deliberately trying to cast doubt on scientific facts and conclusions.

    Outrageous, I know. It's like accusing the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries of peddling their products even when they have evidence that they kill people, or Enron staging power outages to influence an election.

    Everyone should know that corporations embody all that is good in our species, and would never cause, or even allow, harm for financial gain.

    And that science has always been a hotbed of corruption, and people who fake results are put on a pedestal instead of kicked out of their field in irreparable disgrace. And anyone who has a new idea *is* kicked out in disgrace, because it threatens the flow of money to the established interests.

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern