Question: The melting of permafrost is the next potential danger posed by global warming. Explain the impact of melting of permafrost.
Answer: Permafrost is any ground that remains completely frozenfor at least two years straight. These permanently frozen grounds are most common in regions with high mountains and in Earth’s higher latitudes, near the North and South Poles.
The melting of permafrost region due to increasing global temperature is termed as thawing and it poses serious threat globally.
Threats posed by thawing of permafrost
- Sea level rise
The biggest threat faced due to thawing is the increase in sea levels through melting of frozen ice. The water trapped in form of ice will be released into sea and oceans, thereby increasing its level. This increase in sea levels can drown cities and towns located near seas.
- Infrastructure damage
Thawing of ground has the potential to cause damage to structures and buildings by weakening the foundation. The ground on which buildings or infrastructure is constructed can subside due to thawing and this will alter its stability and cause destruction.
Ex: The oil leakage in Siberia was caused due to infrastructure damage caused by thawing.
- Trapped carbonrelease
Large amount of organic waste in form of plants and animal products are trapped under the frozen layer of soil. This has prevented the decomposition of the organic matter, thereby trapping carbon from escaping. Once the ice melts, these carbon will escape into the atmosphere and cause problems such as global warming.
- Release of harmful microbes
Permafrost ground also trap large number of microbes that can be potentially harmful to humans. These strains may have been existent thousands of years ago and do not have medicine. This can potentially be a dangerous situation, one which can destroy civilization.
Thus, permafrost has a significant importance and. It will be appropriate if the status quo is maintained without any damages.