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BBC – Future – The poisons released by the melting of Arctic ice



In 2012, Sue Natalie first arrived in Duvani Yar, Siberia. Then a PhD student who studied the effects of thawing eternal frozen as a result of climate change had many times seen pictures of this site. The rapid thawing of the Tuvany Yar caused a massive collapse on the ground – a mega collapse – like a giant hole in the middle of the Siberian tundra. But nothing had prepared her to see him personally. But they are not logs, they are the bones of mammoths and other Pleistocene animals – Sue Natalie

"It was incredible, really unbelievable," she remembers as she spoke to me at the Woods Hole Research Center, Massachusetts, where an associate scientist . "They're still rubbing me when I think about it … I just could not believe the magnitude: demolishing rocks with the size of multi-storey buildings … and as you walk past you, you see what the trees that push eternal frozen look like. But they are not logs, they are the bones of mammoths and other Pleistocene animals. "

What Natalie describes are the visible, dramatic effects of the rapidly warming Arctic. The ever-frozen ̵

1; so far frozen land and soil – is thawing and revealing its hidden secrets. Along with the Pleistocene fossils, huge emissions of carbon and methane, toxic mercury and ancient diseases are observed

The rich in organic matter permafrost contains about 15 billion tons of carbon. "This is about twice as much carbon in the atmosphere and three times as much carbon than the one stored in all the world's forests," Natalie said. It explains that between 30% and 70% of eternal frozen can melt before 2100, depending on how effectively we react to climate change. "70% are business as usual if we continue to burn fossil fuels at our current rate, and 30% is if we significantly reduce fossil fuel emissions … From 30-70% of thawing, carbon contained in organic matter will begin to degrade from germs, they use it as fuel or energy, and release it as CO2 or methane. "

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About 10% of the carbon that thaw is likely to be released as CO2, amounting to 130-150 billion tonnes. This is equivalent to the current of the total emissions in the United States each year by 2100. The melting of eternal frozen water effectively introduces a new country to the second highest on the list of the highest emission sources and one that is not taken into account in current IPCC models. for a carbon bomb, "says Natalie," Geologically, this is not a slow release, it is a pool of carbon that is locked and not reported in the carbon budget to maintain a rise below two degrees Celsius. "

The winter of the Northern Hemisphere in 2018/2019 was dominated by the titles of the" Polar Wind "As temperatures fell unusually far to the South in North America. In South Bend, Indiana, in January 2019 it reached -29 ° C, almost twice lower than the previous record of the city since 1936. What lies in such stories is that the opposite happens in the far north, behind the arctic circle. In January 2019, the Arctic Ocean averaged only 13.56 million square kilometers (5.24 million square miles), about 860,000 square kilometers (332,000 square miles) below the long-term average from 1981 to 2010, and only slightly above the record level reached in January 2018.

In November, when the temperature had to be -25 ° C, a temperature of 1.2 ° C above freezing was recorded at the North Pole. The Arctic is warming twice faster than the rest of the world (partly due to the loss of solar reflectance).

"We see a huge increase in the thawing of eternal frozen," says Emily Osborn, Arctic Research Program Program Manager, NOAA and editor of the Arctic Report Card, reviewed annually by the Arctic Environment. As a direct result of rising air temperatures, she says, eternal frozenness is thawed and "the landscape is physically disintegrated as a result … things are changing so quickly and in ways the researchers have not even expected."

The Arctic for 2017 did not hit: "The Arctic does not show signs of returning to a frozen area." An article co-authored by Hansie Christiansen, Professor and Deputy Dean of Education at Svalbard University, Norway, examines the freezing temperature at a depth of 20 meters (65 feet long enough not to be affected by short-term seasonal changes ) and Christiansen, who is also the president of the International Association for Perpetual Crosslinking, tells me "the temperatures inside the eternal frozen are increasing at a relatively high speed … then, of course, what was frozen before In 2016, Svalbard's autumn remains above zero in November, "when this happened for the first time in the records we have in 1898," says Christiansen. "Then there came a lot of rain – rainfall here is usually snow. we had muddy landslides crossing roads for a hundred yards … we had to evacuate some parts of the population. "

In some places in Alaska you fly Swiss cheese from land and lakes formed by the collapse of the earth – Sue Natali

a change in North American eternal frozen is just as worrying. "Some places in Alaska fly over Swiss cheese from land and lakes formed by the collapse of the earth," says Natalie, whose fieldwork has been moved from Siber to Alaska. "The water that was near the surface now turns into a pond." Many of these lakes boil with methane, as germs suddenly find a holiday of ancient organic matter to dispose of methane as a by-product. "We often walk around the lakes, because it's so shallow and you're in a hot tub in some places, there are so many bubbles," says Natalie.

But methane and CO2 are not the only things that get rid of ever-frozen land. In the summer of 2016 a group of Nomad reindeer shepherds began to get sick with a mysterious disease. The rumors began to circle around the Siberian plague, most recently seen in the region in 1941. When a young boy and 2500 reindeer died, the disease was identified: anthrax. Its origin is a deer carcass, a victim of an anthrax outbreak 75 years ago. The Arctic Report for 2018 suggests that "diseases such as Spanish influenza, measles or plague that have been destroyed can be frozen into eternal frozenness." A French study in 2014 took a 30,000-year-old virus, frozen in the frame of eternal frozen and warmed Return to the lab. She returned immediately, 300 centuries later. Adding to this apocalyptic vision, in 2016, Domsday Vault, a sub-eternal freeze facility in the Arctic, which protects millions of seeds of the harvest for eternal times – is disturbed by mineral water. The list of members of the Global Earth Network for the Evergreen is the Swedish management of nuclear waste, which probably also relies on permanently frozen permafrost (when BBC Future turned to comment on it, they did not respond). preserved human archeology can also appear, but it is just as quick to lose. The freeze-dried Paleo-Eskimo site in Greenland, preserved for about 4000 years, is at risk of being washed away. This is only one of approximately 180,000 archaeological sites preserved in eternal frozen, often with soft fabrics and clothes that are uniquely left untouched, but will quickly rot if exposed. Adam Markham of the Union of Concerned Scientists said that "with rapid human-induced climate change, many objects or artifacts they contain will be lost before they are discovered."

More modern (and unwanted) a human detritus, however, will not rot: sea microplastics. Thanks to circular world sea currents, many plastic waste ends in the Arctic, where they are frozen in sea ice or eternal frozen. A recent study of marine microparticles has shown that concentrations are higher in the Arctic Basin than all other ocean basins in the world. Microplastic concentrations in Greenland doubled between 2004 and 2015. "Scientists find that these microplasms accumulate across the ocean and are thrown into the Arctic," Osborne explains. "This is something we did not realize was a problem. What scientists are trying to understand now is the composition of these microplasms, what fish they eat with them … and whether we essentially eat microplastics by eating these fish. "Mercury also enters the food chain due to thawing. The Arctic is home to the planet's most mercury. According to the US Geological Survey, there are a total of 1,656,000 tonnes of mercury caught in the polar ice and the ever-frozen surface: approximately twice the total amount in all other soils, oceans and the atmosphere. Natalie explains that "mercury is often associated with organic material in places where there is a high content of organic substances … the body's organism does not remove it so that it bio-accumulates the food network. Evergreen darkness is the almost perfect storm – you have a lot of mercury in the eternal frozen, it is released into the humid systems, it's the right environment for the organisms to take them, and then [it] heads the food network. This is a concern for wildlife, people and commercial fishing. "

Are there Positions for Thawing the Arctic? Can a greener Arctic start seeing more trees and vegetation strengthen, emitting more carbon and offering new animal pastures? Osborne agrees that the "Arctic is environmentally friendly". But she added that studies of animal populations actually suggest that "higher temperatures also increase the spread of viruses and diseases, so we see a lot more caribou and reindeer that are getting more and more painful as a result of this warming climate … just Natalie is also saying that many areas experience "darkening of the tundra": higher temperatures cause surface water to evaporate into the atmosphere, leading to plant death. Other areas experience a sudden flood due to the fall of the earth. "It does not happen in 2100 or 2050, it is now," says Natalie. "You hear people say we're accustomed to killing blueberries there, and you're looking around there, and that's a wetland."

Natalie does not want to end the conversation with any of them. We can do a lot, she says. The fate of the Arctic is not predetermined: "The actions taken by the international community will have a significant impact on how much carbon will be released and how much of the ever-frozen soil will melt. We must keep as much frozen as ever freeze. And we have some control over it. "Our emissions can not remain" common ". The Arctic depends on it. And we depend on the Arctic. Tim Smedley is a sustainability writer based in the UK. His first book is "Clearing the Air: the Beginning and End of Air Pollution". Join more than one million fans of the future by liking Facebook or follow us on Twitter or Instagram .

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