PARIS — A vast outcrop of the Arctic Siberian coast that had been frozen for tens of thousands of years is releasing huge carbon deposits as rising temperatures thaw parts of its coastline, a study warned Wednesday.
The carbon, a potential source of Earth-warming CO2, has lain frozen along the 7,000-kilometre (4,400-mile) northeast Siberian coastline since the last Ice Age.
But atmospheric warming and coastal erosion are gnawing at the icy seal, releasing about 40 million tonnes of carbon a year — 10 times more than previously thought, said a study in the journal Nature.
About two-thirds of the carbon escapes into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2) and the rest becomes trapped in higher layers of ocean sediment.
About half the carbon pool in soil globally is held in permafrost in the Arctic, a region that is experiencing twice the global average of climate warming, said the study led by researchers at Stockholm University.
Earlier this week, US scientists said the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean had melted to its smallest point ever.
The region covered by the Nature study, called Yedoma, is twice the size of Sweden but has been poorly researched because it is so remote.
The finding touches on a vicious circle, or positive feedback in climate parlance.
Under this, man-made warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels releases naturally-occurring stocks of CO2 that have been stored in permafrost since the last Ice Age, called the Pleistocene.
The released gases in turn add to global warming, which frees even more locked-up carbon, and so on.
“Thermal collapse and erosion of these carbon-rich Pleistocene coastline and seafloor deposits may accelerate the Arctic amplification of climate warming,” the paper warned.
The atmospheric leakage from Yedoma is equivalent to the annual emissions of around five million passenger cars, on the basis of average carbon output (five tonnes per year) of vehicles in the United States.
In a separate study also in Nature, researchers in Britain, the Netherlands and the United States used computer models to estimate there could be as much as four billion tonnes of methane under Antarctica’s icesheet.
Methane is 25 times more efficient at trapping solar heat than carbon dioxide.
Before it froze over, the region teemed with life whose organic remains became trapped in sediment later covered by ice sheets.
“Our modelling shows that over millions of years, microbes may have turned this old organic carbon into methane,” which could boost climate warming if released by icesheet collapse, the researchers said in a statement.
The collapse of the Antarctic icesheet is considered an extremely remote scenario by most climatologists, and some studies have suggested that parts of it could be thickening, due to localised increases in snowfall.
‘Go back to Harlem!’: Florida woman has n-word laced meltdown after bumping black woman’s shopping cart
On Saturday, the Atlanta Black Star reported an incident in Florida, in which a white woman screamed racial slurs at a black woman at a Publix supermarket in Miami after their shopping carts jostled each other.
After the woman allegedly banged into Nicki Johnson's cart, she refused to apologize, saying, "I didn't hit you with my cart, and f**k you, you f**king n****r."
Johnson whipped out her cell phone camera, and began recording the incident, saying "You, why don't you call me a n****r again?"
"You thinking I'm sorry?" snapped the woman. "Let me tell you something, I don't have to call you anything. Get away from me, I will call security and there are surveillance videos. Get away from me!"
‘I’m a nurse, what are you?’: Tennessee lawmaker humiliates anti-choice activists in brutal public grilling
Anti-choice activists in Tennessee were unprepared for the grilling they got from a Democratic Party lawmaker when making the case for a bill that would outlaw abortion before many women knew they were pregnant.
One of the speakers in favor of the fetal heartbeat bill was Baptist Pastor Randy Davis, who was questioned by state Sen. Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis).
"How many women executive pastors do you have in your convention?" Robinson asked Davis. "Or senior pastors."
"None," Davis replied.
"So is it the same ideology that restricts access to women being able to lead a congregation that leads you all to support women not being able to make a medical decision about their body?" Robinson asked.
Trump is doing everything he did in 2016 to get elected — and it’s failing this time: columnist
On Saturday, Washington Post columnist Dan Balz wrote that President Donald Trump is relying on the same old bag of tricks that let him lurch blindly to a surprise victory in 2016 — but that that playbook is unlikely to get him elected again, let alone deliver sound domestic or foreign policy.
"After a week in which the threat of recession rocked global financial markets, his trade war with China showed no signs of progress and the government of Israel got into a nasty dispute with two members of Congress, President Trump went to bed Thursday night with other weighty issues on his mind. 'Great news,' he tweeted. 'Tonight we broke the all-time attendance record previously held by Elton John at #SNHUArena [Southern New Hampshire University] in Manchester!'" wrote Balz. "This is the frivolous mind-set of the president of the United States. Trump’s flurry of statements over the past few days have brought into focus once again something fundamental about him: He has little understanding of what it means to govern. He would rather tweet from the bleachers."