Bubbling and Exploding Arctic Lakes Threaten To Make Climate Change Worse

Tuesday, 25 September 2018 - 12:56PM
Earth
Tuesday, 25 September 2018 - 12:56PM
Bubbling and Exploding Arctic Lakes Threaten To Make Climate Change Worse
< >
Image credit: Pixabay
According to at least one scientific study, the Earth is poised to undergo some radical changes over the next century if we don't cut down on the emission of greenhouse gases. In fact, the Earth may change so dramatically that it could trigger human extinction—just like a recent study on exo-civilizations predicted. The solutions have ranged from rational (switching to alternative energy sources) to bizarre (building megastructures beneath portions of West Antarctica to keep it from collapsing), but there may be one factor no one counted on: permafrost and Arctic lakes.

As the planet warms, large swathes of permafrost across the Arctic are beginning to melt, releasing large quantities of carbon dioxide from the soil trapped in the ice. This carbon dioxide sticks around in the atmosphere and accelerates climate change ever further, leading to more permafrost melting, and so on. According to the Alaska Daily News, a research team led by Katey Walter Anthony has found that 'thermokarst' lakes formed by melting permafrost are also releasing greenhouse gases from previously frozen soil, but the most troubling discovery of all has to do with an isolated body of water called Esieh Lake.

Esieh Lake is one of several lakes scattered across the Arctic that never fully freezes due to its emission of methane gas from its lake bottom. After investigating the source of the methane, Anthony's team found that the source wasn't the soil, it was caches of fossil fuels—ancient organic material. Not only is methane a stronger initial accelerant when it comes to climate change, Esieh is venting large amounts of it—and if there are more like it, it could spell disaster for current efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Based on research by Anthony's team, the continued growth of lakes like Esieh could double the amount of greenhouse gases coming from the Arctic by 2100.

Science
Science News
Earth