issue22permafrost9_xl

What is permafrost?

Regarding the fauna we have already told you that the soil consistency in the Arctic is quite limited and that it is mainly made out of permafrost soil. It means that the temperature of this soil was lying around or below 0°C for at least 2 years and therefore was constantly frozen.
In some areas of Siberia and Canada the permafrost layer is up to 1.5 km thick. How does that relate to climate change you ask? Up to 1,000 gigatons, 1,000 billion tons, of carbon dioxide are bound in the Arctic permafrost soil. Due to the ongoing climate warming, the permafrost soil could defrost completely if nothing is being done against global warming. It is one cause of the melting but also the soil’s own energy by microbes which process the carbon inside the permafrost is a second engine. Microbes are little creatures which can’t be seen by the eye. They process carbon to CO2 and methane. Inside the permafrost soil their activity however, is strongly restricted or not even existing anymore because it is too cold. When the air temperature rises above 0°C the microbes start with their degradation work. Besides greenhouse gases, also warmth is produced which further defrosts the permafrost ground. If the complete permafrost would melt, ¾ of the locked carbon would be released as greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, just feeding into the global warming cycle.