Arctic Seabed Permafrost More Widespread Than Previously Thought

Attached is a press release on a study done on the extent of submarine permafrost in the Arctic Ocean. The most comprehensive survey ever done. Unfortunately, the researchers also indicate that nearly all the permafrost is melting and thinning. This will ultimately lead to further releases of methane as this continues (which it will) because of accelerating ocean warming.

Excerpt:

Scientists have now, for the first time ever, modelled the distribution of submarine permafrost underneath the entire Arctic seabed. Published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans in the latest issue (April 2019), their findings reveal that submarine permafrost is more widely distributed than previously thought, and is almost all getting thinner.

These findings are significant, because knowing how much submarine permafrost exists is a crucial first step in predicting how much methane and carbon dioxide might be released into the atmosphere from underneath the Arctic seabed.

“As sea ice melts and the temperature of the Arctic water column increases, some of this heat is being transferred to the seabed, accelerating the thaw of submarine permafrost. This raises the possibility of releasing methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. It’s crucial that we get a better understanding of where submarine permafrost is located and how vulnerable it is to this warming”, noted Dr. Paul Overduin from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI),Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research and leadauthor of the study.

---Meteorologist Nick Humphrey

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