Climate Change Impact on our Soil

Climate ChangeSoil and Climate Change Background

In April of 2016, TKEC blogged about the importance of soil in storing carbon.  If we could restore more carbon to the world’s soil, we could put a huge dent in the carbon pollution problem.  

Earlier, we also blogged about the thawing of permafrost, which is a frozen combination of soil, rock, sediment and organic material releasing carbon and methane to the atmosphere, that contributes to increasing temperatures.  

New Research by Woods Hole Research Center on Permafrost and Climate Change

A recent New York Times article reported on research conducted in Alaska’s permafrost by Woods Hole Research Center.  The goal of the research was to better understand thawing permafrost:

  • How does it affect the landscape
  • How much and what mix of greenhouse gases is released in the process

The researchers discovered

  • Thawing of permafrost wreaks havoc on infrastructure i.e. slumping land leads to unstable roads, airport runways, and parking lots.  It also leads to cracked weakened foundations of buildings
  • Landscape changes can also have an important climate change impact, by altering the mix of carbon dioxide and methane that is emitted. 
  • The rise in emissions has been so significant, the researchers found, that Alaska may be shifting from a storehouse, of carbon to a net source.

According to Max Holmes, senior scientist and deputy director of the research center, he would expect Siberia, Canada and other areas with permafrost, may be undergoing similar changes.  “There’s a massive amount of carbon that’s in the ground, that’s build up slowly over thousands and thousands of years.  It’s been in a freezer, and that freezer is now turning into a refrigerator.”