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Study by Leeds University on permafrost Peatlands shows Grim Projections. What will happen?

Study by Leeds University on permafrost Peatlands shows Grim Projections. What will happen?

Relevance

  • GS I || Geography || Geomorphology || Krast landforms

Why in the news?

  • A new study, led by the University of Leeds, used the latest generation of climate models to examine possible future climates of higher latitude regions and their likely impact on their permafrost peatlands.
  • The projections indicate a grim picture that even with the strongest efforts to reduce global carbon emissions, and therefore limit global warming, by mid-century the climates of Northern Europe will no longer be cold and dry enough to sustain peat permafrost.

Key findings

  • Permafrost peatlands in Sweden, Norway, Finland and parts of European Russia, which are already seeing warmer temperatures, can reach their threshold before western Siberia.
  • By 2040, northern Europe might become too wet and warm to support permafrost peatlands.
  • By 2060, areas of Europe and Western Siberia could lose 75 per cent under moderate efforts to mitigate climate change. The figure could go as high as 81 per cent and 93 per cent if the world does little to address the issue.

 

Concerns about thawing permafrost

  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions- The organic substance in the ground was encased and frozen.
    • If the ground begins to thaw, microbes will be able to break down this substance.
    • Microorganisms release carbon dioxide in some situations and methane in others, which is 25 to 30 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
  • The shift from carbon sinks to carbon emitters-Some permafrost regions have shifted from being carbon sinks to net carbon emitters
  • Increase in the Number of Forest Fires: In Russia this year, a forest fire the size of Portugal broke out. After a fire, one may usually anticipate the forest to regenerate in the next 50 to 60 years. This replenishes the ecosystem’s carbon reserve.
    • However, in the tundra, the organic material is found as peat, which takes a long time to accumulate. If peat is burned and released into the atmosphere, it will take centuries to replenish the carbon supply on the ground.
  • Releasing New Bacteria or Viruses
    • The environment now is so much more suitable than during the Ice Age for not just human life, but also the evolution or development of viruses and bacteria.
    • So, the chances of emerging new bacteria or viruses cannot be ignored.

Steps to be taken/ Way forward

  • Slow Erosion- The scientific publication Nature proposed constructing a 100-meter-long dam in front of the Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland, which is the glacier most affected by the Arctic melting.
  • Combine Artificial Icebergs-An prize has been given to an Indonesian architect for his project Refreeze the Arctic, which involves collecting water from melted glaciers, desalinating it, and refreezing it to build gigantic hexagonal ice blocks.
  • Slowing down the Rapid Climate Change-To prevent climate change and maintain the permafrost, global CO2 emissions must be cut by 45 percent over the next decade and nil by 2050.
  • Combine Artificial Icebergs An prize has been given to an Indonesian architect for his project Refreeze the Arctic, which involves collecting water from melted glaciers, desalinating it, and refreezing it to build gigantic hexagonal ice blocks.
  • Increase Their Thickness: Some scientists offer a method for producing more ice. Their plan entails gathering ice from beneath the glacier using wind-powered pumps and spreading it over the upper ice caps, where it will solidify and improve the consistency.

Conclusion

  • Climate change and global warming must be elevated to the top of every country’s foreign policy agenda. This is a key step that we must take, and the sooner we do so, the bigger the benefit from our own climate measures will be.

References

  • org.in/news/climate-change/permafrost-peatlands-in-europe-western-siberia-nearing-tipping-point-study-81967