Please allow me to ruin your Labor Day weekend.
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 yesterday.
The carbon, a potential source of Earth-warming CO2, has lain frozen along the 7000km 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.
Ten times more than previously thought. We knew warming was a vicious cycle, just not this vicious.
So as you sit there this Labor Day weekend, on a beach or at a picnic, every time you think to yourself, man, it’s warm out, think of this article. That permafrost is thawing as you sit there holding that hot dog. As you chew, carbon dioxide is seeping out of the ground, into the sky. As your family plays volleyball or you laugh in that paddleboat or you sit there watching Breaking Bad in your underwear with the curtains drawn, it’s a little warmer in Siberia and a little more carbon is seeping out, silently, invisibly. As you eat your ice cream, celebrating the end to one of the hottest summers in U.S. history, picture it. A little molecule — two oxygens, one carbon — breaking contact with the soil and rising gently like a balloon until it reaches the atmosphere, helping to trap heat for the next few centuries.
Have a happy holiday.
- Siberian thaw unlocks ice-age carbon vault, Agence France-Presse
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