The Coming Great Thaw Of America’s North

The Coming Great Thaw Of America’s North.

In geology, permafrost is ground, including rock or (cryotic) soil, at or below the freezing point of water 0 °C (32 °F) for two or more years. Most permafrost is located in high latitudes in and around the Arctic and Antarctic regions, but alpine permafrost may exist at high altitudes in much lower latitudes. Ground ice is not always present, as may be in the case of nonporous bedrock, but it frequently occurs and it may be in amounts exceeding the potential hydraulic saturation of the ground material. Permafrost accounts for 0.022% of total water on Earth and exists in 24% of exposed land in the Northern Hemisphere. It also occurs subsea on the continental shelves of the continents surrounding the Arctic Ocean, portions of which were exposed during the last glacial period, with global weather implications. Permafrost also store carbon, both as peat and as methane. Work investigating the permafrost carbon pool size estimates that 1400–1700 Gt of carbon is stored in the northern circumpolar permafrost region. While a recent study that includes stores of the Tibetan Plateau, estimates total carbon pools in the permafrost of the Northern Hemisphere to be 1832 Gt. This large carbon pool represents more carbon than currently exists in all living things. A global temperature rise of 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) above current levels would be enough to start the thawing of permafrost in Siberia, according to one group of scientists.

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