A new study has for the first time revealed that rapidly thawing permafrost is adding to the world’s growing climate change problem.
The study, which was published in Nature Geoscience has for the first time comprehensively accounted for permafrost carbon release when estimating emission budgets for climate targets.
Permafrost is soil that has been frozen for an extended period of time. Due to the long periods that it remains frozen, the soil stores large amounts of carbon and other nutrients from organic matter, and thus represent a large carbon reservoir. This is seldom considered in projections of potential future global warming.
Thomas Gasser, a researcher with the IIASA Ecosystems Services and Management Program and lead author of the study says the rapid thawing of Permafrost and the related carbon release is caused by rising temperatures associated with global warming. T”his will certainly diminish the budget of CO2 we can emit while staying below a certain level of global warming,” he explains
“It is also an irreversible process over the course of a few centuries, and may therefore be considered a “tipping” element of the Earth’s carbon-climate system that puts the linear approximation of the emission budget framework to the test,” he continues.
This is the first time that such a tipping process is adequately accounted for in emission budgets, and according to the researchers, doing so shows that the world is closer to exceeding the budget for the long-term target of the Paris Agreement than previously thought.