Melting tundra creating vast river of waste into Arctic Ocean

Jan 11, 2010
Sofia Hjalmarsson is a postgraduate student at the Department of Chemistry, University of Gothenburg, Sweden Credit: University of Gothenburg

The increase in temperature in the Arctic has already caused the sea-ice there to melt. According to research conducted by the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, if the Arctic tundra also melts, vast amounts of organic material will be carried by the rivers straight into the Arctic Ocean, resulting in additional emissions of carbon dioxide.

Several Russian enter the particularly in the Laptev north of Siberia. One of the main rivers flowing into the Laptev Sea is the Lena, which in terms of its drainage basin and length is one of the ten largest rivers in the world. The river water carries from the tundra, and research from the University of Gothenburg shows that this adds a considerable amount of to the atmosphere when it is degraded in the coastal waters.

Increased temperatures

The increase in temperature in the Arctic, which has already made an impact in the form of reduced sea-ice cover during the summer, may also cause the permafrost to melt.

"Large amounts of organic carbon are currently stored within the permafrost and if this is released and gets carried by the rivers out into the coastal waters, then it will result in an increased release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere," says Sofia Hjalmarsson, native of Falkenberg and postgraduate student at the Department of Chemistry.

Study of two areas

In her thesis, Sofia Hjalmarsson has studied the carbon system in two different geographical areas: partly in the Baltic Sea, the Kattegat and the Skagerrak, and partly in the coastal waters north of Siberia (the Laptev Sea, the East Siberian Sea and the Chukchi Sea). The two areas have in common the fact that they receive large volumes of river water containing organic carbon and nutrients, mainly nitrogen.

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User comments : 2

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NeilFarbstein
not rated yet Jan 11, 2010
fertilizing the oceans with iron makes plankton bloom and decreased CO2 by absorbing it and incorporating it into plankton. Why wont fertile tundra water do the same?
dachpyarvile
3 / 5 (2) Jan 20, 2010
Nice misuse of my username again, Mr. Dachpyarviie sockpuppet.

Arctic warming has numerous causes all working together and you know it.

And, melting of Tundra is going to carry with it the nutrients and substances once frozen in the permafrost.

Nonetheless, I think it of interest that what is going into the ocean is what would have gone into it before.

Further of interest is a recent study of the Arctic and Greenland which shows that it was warmer in that region from 1920-1930 than it is today. That one was unexpected.

Additionally, looking over the GISP2 data also shows something else even more of interest. It was warmer there 1,000 years ago, 2,000 years ago, and 5,000 years ago, than it is today.

The funniest visual evidence I have ever seen, however, was when a documentary was being filmed of the melted permafrost dating to just before modern times, and the speaker picked up some melted permafrost soil filled with plant roots.

I would have stopped filming...

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