We need to talk about permafrost and its impact on the climate

A country-sized source of carbon emissions is starting to be released.

On The Carbon Copy podcast this week:

In the Global North, up to 15% of the earth’s surface is covered in permafrost. Permafrost is a frozen layer of rocks, soil, ice and partially decomposed plants — and it’s a massive carbon sink.

The earth’s permafrost layer contains 1.5 trillion metric tons of carbon. That’s twice the amount currently in the earth’s atmosphere. And, no surprise, it is melting at an accelerated rate due to climate change. 

The decline of permafrost is bad for the atmosphere and Arctic communities. And because it’s historically been so difficult to predict, the climate impact is not being fully taken into consideration by policymakers.

New research could change our understanding of the problem. This week, we’ll talk with a scientist who’s trying to fill the gaps in our knowledge about the climate impact of permafrost. 

Guest: Sue Natali, an Arctic ecologist who leads the Woodwell Climate Arctic Program. Read about her Permafrost Pathways research.

The Carbon Copy is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.

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