The Alaskan and other arctic climates means that they have hundreds of miles of permafrost areas, which are areas of frozen soil that stay at temperatures below or at the freezing point of 32-degrees Fahrenheit or zero degrees Celsius all year long.
Locked up inside all of that permafrost is carbon dioxide, which has been stored there for as many as thousands of years. Scientists have been concerned that it would thaw out and cause the carbon dioxide to produce a devastating carbon bomb that could escalate the effects of climate change.
The carbon dioxide that scientists measured in the arctic permafrost layers is twice the amount in the Earth’s atmosphere, so it had caused concern that melting and the resulting carbon dioxide would travel into the atmosphere and raise the Earth’s temperature more than already predicted.
However, recent studies by the Permafrost Carbon Network from Northern Arizona University have lessened the concern that the carbon in permafrost should be of any immediate concern. Study has shown that it could stay frozen for decades. The study shows that any release of carbon dioxide is happening in a very gradual manner, as has been the case in the past. It is taking far longer than originally thought might occur, which is good news for the Earth’s environment.
The amount of carbon dioxide thought to be stored in the arctic permafrost is about 30 percent of the entire amount of ground-based carbon. The information from the Northern Arizona University study doesn’t mean there is no danger or worry at all concerning the carbon in permafrost regions. The new information means that there is more time to find a way to solve the possible problems it could eventually bring if the carbon dioxide were to get out and travel into the environment.
The rate the permafrost regions release any stored carbon dioxide depends on how fast the organic material in the frozen ground decomposes. That also depends on what the dirt is made up of, if the soil is well drained, for instance, it releases carbon as carbon dioxide, while if it is poorly drained, it could release a more dangerous form of carbon turned into methane gases. Scientists believe that some of the frozen permafrost regions have been frozen for more than 11,000 years, while others have unthawed at various other rates. The bottom line is that scientists feel they now have more time to study how to predict and somehow fix the problem so that the carbon dioxide in the frozen soil will not have as much impact on the issue of climate change.