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Posted Mon Feb 11 2013: from UMich, via PNAS, via PhysOrg:
Sunlight stimulates release of climate-warming gas from melting Arctic permafrost, study says
Ancient carbon trapped in Arctic permafrost is extremely sensitive to sunlight and, if exposed to the surface when long-frozen soils melt and collapse, can release climate-warming carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere much faster than previously thought.... They found that sunlight increases bacterial conversion of exposed soil carbon into carbon dioxide gas by at least 40 percent compared to carbon that remains in the dark. The team, led by Rose Cory of the University of North Carolina, reported its findings in an article to be published online Feb. 11 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.... Tremendous stores of organic carbon have been frozen in Arctic permafrost soils for thousands of years. If thawed and released as carbon dioxide gas, this vast carbon repository has the potential to double the amount of the heat-trapping greenhouse gas in the atmosphere on a timescale similar to humanity's inputs of carbon dioxide due to the burning of fossil fuels.
[Read more stories about: holyshit, death spiral, permafrost meltdown, faster than expected, feedback loop]
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