Related topics: carbon dioxide · climate change

China looks to 'combustible ice' as a fuel source

(PhysOrg.com) -- Buried below the tundra of China’s Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is a type of frozen natural gas containing methane and ice crystals that could supply energy to China for 90 years. China discovered the large reserve ...

Methane is leaking from permafrost offshore Siberia

Yamal Peninsula in Siberia has recently become world famous. Spectacular sinkholes, appeared as out of nowhere in the permafrost of the area, sparking the speculations of significant release of greenhouse gas methane into ...

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

Methane (CH4) is a potent greenhouse gas that is roughly 30 times more harmful to the climate than carbon dioxide (CO2). Both gases are produced in thawing permafrost as dead animal and plant remains are decomposed. However, ...

Study: Arctic seabed methane stores destabilizing, venting

A section of the Arctic Ocean seafloor that holds vast stores of frozen methane is showing signs of instability and widespread venting of the powerful greenhouse gas, according to the findings of an international research ...

Ancient permafrost quickly transforms to carbon dioxide upon thaw

Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and key academic partners including the University of Colorado Boulder have quantified how rapidly ancient permafrost decomposes upon thawing and how much carbon dioxide is produced ...

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Permafrost

In geology, permafrost, cryotic soil or permafrost soil is soil at or below the freezing point of water (0 °C or 32 °F) for two or more years. Ice is not always present, as may be in the case of nonporous bedrock, but it frequently occurs and it may be in amounts exceeding the potential hydraulic saturation of the ground material. Most permafrost is located in high latitudes (i.e. land close to the North and South poles), but alpine permafrost may exist at high altitudes in much lower latitudes. Permafrost accounts for 0.022% of total water and exists in 24% of exposed land in the Northern Hemisphere.

The extent of permafrost can vary as the climate changes. Today, a considerable area of the Arctic is covered by permafrost (including discontinuous permafrost). Overlying permafrost is a thin active layer that seasonally thaws during the summer. Plant life can be supported only within the active layer since growth can occur only in soil that is fully thawed for some part of the year. Thickness of the active layer varies by year and location, but is typically 0.6–4 m (2.0–13 ft) thick. In areas of continuous permafrost and harsh winters the depth of the permafrost can be as much as 1,493 m (4,898 ft) in the northern Lena and Yana River basins in Siberia. Permafrost can also store carbon, both as peat and as methane. The most recent work investigating the permafrost carbon pool size estimates that 1400-1700 Gt of carbon is stored in permafrost soils worldwide. . This large carbon pool represents more carbon than currently exists in all living things and twice as much carbon as exists in the atmosphere.

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