The permafrost melts

Methane is a super efficient gas that has long been overlooked in the climate accounts. But its effect and thawing can accelerate the climate changes by factor 9.

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In this material one of the world's leading experts in permafrost, Professor Torben Røjle Christensen from Aarhus University, is interviewed. He tells about the melting of the permafrost in the Arctic, and the consequences it has on the climate.

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Earth's permafrost has globally become 0.3 degrees less cold over the past decade. And the temperature continues to rise.
Melting takes place down in the ground, namely in parts that affect the foundations of houses and infrastructure. Not only in Greenland and the rest of the Arctic, but everywhere on Earth where permafrost exists.
Permafrost is soil or mountain that is in a permanently frozen state, and is more precisely defined as areas where the temperature in soil (or mountain) is below zero for more than two consecutive years. A new study, recently published in the journal Nature Communications, entitled "Permafrost is warming to a global scale", shows that the temperature in the permafrost on a global scale has increased by an average of 0.3 degrees from 2007-2016.

When the permafrost dries and the ice in the earth melts, it changes the earth's mechanical properties, atmospheric balance, and in a bit - but not so far - our common living conditions. The changes can cause stability problems for our climatic balance, change the living conditions of hundreds of millions of people, and change the premises for buildings and important infrastructure.


Google search "permafrost+holes"


Basically, it is about two things: how much energy comes in from the sun and how much that escapes. The Arctic is the perfect example: If there is much ice, the energy of the sun is reflected back to the room.
If there is no ice, but a dark landscape with water under….
Then energy is absorbed and helps to melt permafrost - above and below the sea.
That means the frozen areas in the sea can also change the balance:
The sea temperature rises as the sea ice melts. One can say that the artistic area goes from being a white pole that has rejected the sun's rays and energy to becoming a battery that absorbs energy form the sun's rays.

When the sun's rays and energy are not rejected and reflected by the ice, because the ice is longer there, away, the energy must necessarily be absorbed into the sea and, thus, the sea
The sea is like a battery ..
The temperature rises throughout the water column.
This means that the methane that is bound in the seabed in the coastal areas is also released over time and that it will contribute to a further release of methane.



The geographic scope of the defrost is enormous. The potential for the importance of thawing is enormous. The amount of gas that can be released is over which total area is huge:
The crucial thing is to understand how much it means that something goes from being below freezing to being above freezing, and the crucial thing is to understand the extent of what we dare to do now with our lifestyle. The freezer is opened. We do not know what the consequences will be but we have an idea of the scope.

Due to global warming, dry permafrost in large parts of the Arctic - and this means the interaction between microorganisms, plants and soil environment is significantly changed. There are no small areas we describe here: 19 million square kilometers of the Arctic is covered by permafrost; soil frozen for more than two years. Permafrost contains almost half of all organic matter in all soils, and thawing of permafrost will affect the microorganism's degradation of the vast amounts of organic matter. The degradation will mean the release of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, which may further increase global warming. We do not know the extent of the total emissions yet: But to give a picture that the permafrost spread and significance, it is decisive to understand how large the parts it spreads. Search Google






Produced in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the University of Copenhagen and Alphafilm.