April 14, 2020. Life / Nature’s Solutions to Climate Change
Cyril F. Kormos, Shyla Raghav, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Russell A. Mittermeier, Brendan Mackey, Wes Sechrest
Permafrost is ground that remains at or below 0 °C (32 °F), the freezing point of water, for at least two years.
Permafrost accumulates over time, ranging in depth from 4.4 meters (14.6 feet) within one year to 626 meters (2,055 feet) over a quarter of a million years. During this time organic matter gets trapped and locked into the frozen permafrost, resulting in the vast storage of 1.5 trillion tons of carbon.
Human-emitted greenhouse gases (GHG) already have driven up the global average temperature by 1 °C, and several times higher in the Arctic region. This has resulted in a 20 percent decline in permafrost land area and triggering releases of the GHG methane (CH4), which is 20 times more potent than CO2.
The massive amounts of GHGs at risk of being released by abrupt permafrost thawing (and the other tipping points) could be largely thwarted if humanity accomplishes the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement to limit global warming.
This is an excerpt from the CEMEX Nature Series Book “Nature’s Solutions to Climate Change” (2019)