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Permafrost receding quickly: study

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posted on Feb, 18 2010 @ 08:13 PM
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Researchers find growth along James Bay moving rapidly northward

Ottawa Citizen

Permafrost is ground that is normally and historically frozen all year round. Or at least it usd to be. The data being collected from the Arctic and northern Canada are demonstrating unprecedented warming of the North. This is nothing to do with American politics or AL Gore, but this observed and measured warming of the Arctic and northern climates has a massive and unprecedented impact along many dimensions, economics certainly being one of those.


The thawing and decay of telltale, reddish mounds along the eastern shore of James Bay have led a team of Quebec researchers to conclude that the region's permafrost line has moved rapidly northward -- about 130 kilometres in just 50 years -- as part of a broader transformation of Canada's sub-Arctic frontier in the age of climate change. And the researchers from Université Laval warn that "if the trend continues, permafrost in the region will completely disappear in the near future." The study, carried out by biologists Simon Thibault and Serge Payette, is published in the scientific journal Permafrost and Periglacial Processes.


Before the climate change deniers start in with their arguments, it is vital to notice that this is not an article that is intended to prove anything.


"While climate change is the most probable explanation for this phenomenon, the lack of long term climactic data for the area makes it impossible for the researchers to officially confirm this." However, the researchers found from temperature records that the average annual temperature in the area had increased by 2 C over the past 20 years. "If this trend keeps up, what is left of the palsas in the James Bay bogs will disappear altogether in the near future, and it is likely that the permafrost will suffer the same fate," Payette stated.


In other words no one is stating that this "proves" climate change or anything else, but the scientists do note that it is the front runner in possible explanations for what they are observing.


[edit on 18-2-2010 by metamagic]




posted on Feb, 18 2010 @ 08:37 PM
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Hopefully members will stay away from the climate change debate on this thread and stay on topic.

This doesn't sound good. I wonder how much methane is estimated to be frozen in that area of permafrost? Looks like the effects on the area in question may become pretty dramatic. Loss of habitat is surely a real concern.



posted on Feb, 18 2010 @ 11:00 PM
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I've been finding mushrooms and other fungi further north then they should be in the past years. Perhaps their spread northward is related to the permafrost receding?



posted on Feb, 18 2010 @ 11:14 PM
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The methane release is certainly an issue but there are a umber of other things that came to mind when I read this.

1. A lot of construction in the north takes place on permafrost. If we see permafrost melting then roads, buildings and other things are at risk. The cost of retrofitting to a non permafrost environment might be incredible.

2. Introduction of new species into the north from the south at a rapid pace may have a devastating effect on the rather delicate Arctic ecology.

3. What happens to the northern communities when permafrost turns to muskeg?

4. How does the melt affect the watershed?

Unless some sort of proactive measure is taken soon, I suspect that the costs of waiting until we are in crisis will be astronomical.



posted on Feb, 18 2010 @ 11:48 PM
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reply to post by metamagic
 


I'm not sure there is much that can really be done. It would take the world to get along for once and act and you know how likely that is given economic circumstances and political rubbish.

Edit - But I do agree that the consequences of ignoring this could be astronomical as you put it.

[edit on 18-2-2010 by ForestForager]



posted on Feb, 18 2010 @ 11:57 PM
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Sounds like a good thing, to me. Less permafrost equals more workable terrain, permitting more extensive human habitation farther north.

Is there anything wrong with that? Not at all. If not for receding glaciers and permafrost, more than half of the North American continent would still be under two miles of uninhabitable ice fields dating back tens of thousands of years..

Thank God that the permafrost is receding. It means new frontiers are opening up for the human species.

— Doc Velocity



posted on Feb, 19 2010 @ 12:05 AM
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Originally posted by ForestForager
But I do agree that the consequences of ignoring this could be astronomical as you put it.


What are the "astronomical consequences" of ignoring climate change that we can't affect one way or the other?

All we can do is adapt to it, take advantage of the situation, capitalize on the availability of fresh and workable terrain.

There's nothing we can do to replenish the permafrost; and, frankly, it's rather crazy to even think such a thing. Any attempt on our part to change the climate will be a grossly uninformed and ignorant attempt.

We don't know what drives the climate or climate change, obviously, or else there wouldn't be so many climatologists worldwide with egg on their faces.

— Doc Velocity




[edit on 2/19/2010 by Doc Velocity]



posted on Feb, 19 2010 @ 12:12 AM
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Perhaps the cold areas are getting warmer and the warm areas are getting colder?

Therein lies the balance.

If that's the case, I'll accept the term "CLIMATE CHANGE" because "Global Warming" is obviously not the case, especially since all those false GW reports has hurt the cause and credibility.



posted on Feb, 19 2010 @ 12:13 AM
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Originally posted by Doc Velocity
Sounds like a good thing, to me. Less permafrost equals more workable terrain, permitting more extensive human habitation farther north.

Is there anything wrong with that? Not at all. If not for receding glaciers and permafrost, more than half of the North American continent would still be under two miles of uninhabitable ice fields dating back tens of thousands of years..

Thank God that the permafrost is receding. It means new frontiers are opening up for the human species.

— Doc Velocity


You raise a pretty good point, it would make the terrain more workable... but there are definitely some negative consequences for those living in that area.

When the permafrost melts, the buildings built on top of them start to sink into the ground... literally. So i suppose it would allow for "more extensive habitation", but it will come at quite a cost first.



posted on Feb, 19 2010 @ 12:24 AM
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Originally posted by Gamecock
When the permafrost melts, the buildings built on top of them start to sink into the ground... literally. So i suppose it would allow for "more extensive habitation", but it will come at quite a cost first.

But we can say the same thing of any area of human habitation on Earth, can we not? Look at the millions of humans who are drawn to make their homes and communities in areas of seismic upheaval — Southern California springs to mind. IF (or, rather, when) the "Big One" transpires along the San Andreas fault system, these humans will face the costliest of challenges... Rebuilding an entire civilization hundreds of miles farther east.

Or look at the humans who irresistibly gravitate to building their communities on the slopes of volcanoes. An activity more ignorant I can't imagine.

The Earth changes, that's the only constant. Our ability to adapt to changing climate and changing terrain is our greatest advantage, as a species.

— Doc Velocity



posted on Feb, 19 2010 @ 12:26 AM
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The thawing of permafrost is the greatest threat to mankind. In areas of permafrost lies frozen biological matter when thawed gives off methane which is 20 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. Vast areas of Siberia for instance has begun to thaw.....just realised this is going to fall on deaf ears so I am not going to bother just wait another 15 years or so......



posted on Feb, 19 2010 @ 12:47 AM
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Originally posted by loner007
The thawing of permafrost is the greatest threat to mankind. In areas of permafrost lies frozen biological matter when thawed gives off methane which is 20 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.

Face it, anything over which we have no control is the "greatest threat to Mankind"... We've heard that all manner of change is the "greatest threat to Mankind," but we haven't vanished from the face of the Earth yet.

A few years ago, the disappearance of honeybees was popularized as "the greatest threat to Mankind"... I think it was Arthur C. Clarke — whom I consider the greatest futurist of all time — claimed that if the honeybees disappeared, Mankind would face extinction within 5 years.

Sorry, Sir Arthur. We hardly noticed the honeybees taking a vacation.

No, the thaw of the permafrost is not going to spell extinction. Earth has already undergone extensive freezing and thawing for millions and millions of years. In the last few million years, the Earth has endured many major and minor Ice Ages — our ancestors survived them just fine, and the Earth never succumbed to a runaway greenhouse effect.

Do you know why?

It's because our vast oceans have consistently absorbed most of the carbon in our atmosphere, and they have replenished the oxygen content quite reliably. We could cut down the entire Amazonian and Congo rainforests and burn them all in a massive bonfire without sending our planet into a runaway greenhouse effect, because the oceans would absorb the excess carbon and replenish the oxygen.

As has been the case for hundreds of millions of years.

— Doc Velocity



posted on Feb, 19 2010 @ 01:21 AM
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Originally posted by Doc Velocity

Originally posted by ForestForager
But I do agree that the consequences of ignoring this could be astronomical as you put it.


What are the "astronomical consequences" of ignoring climate change that we can't affect one way or the other?

All we can do is adapt to it, take advantage of the situation, capitalize on the availability of fresh and workable terrain.

There's nothing we can do to replenish the permafrost; and, frankly, it's rather crazy to even think such a thing. Any attempt on our part to change the climate will be a grossly uninformed and ignorant attempt.

We don't know what drives the climate or climate change, obviously, or else there wouldn't be so many climatologists worldwide with egg on their faces.

— Doc Velocity


[edit on 2/19/2010 by Doc Velocity]


I wont argue, becuase you are right, we will adapt and we will work the terrain... The astronomical loss will be the loss of species and perhaps a critical eco-system...everything has a purpose...swamps are like the earth's kidneys...so what is the permafrost equal too?







 
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