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Abrupt permafrost thaw releases more CO2 than expected

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

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🗞️ Driving the news: Recent research conducted by Professor YANG Yuanhe and his team from the Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences reveals that abrupt permafrost thaw, or thermokarst, significantly increases soil CO2 emissions compared to areas where permafrost remains intact
• This increase is due to a variety of factors, including changes in soil quality and microbial activity

🔭 The context: Permafrost at high latitudes and altitudes contains about half of all below-ground organic carbon
• The study focuses on how abrupt thawing (thermokarst) affects carbon release into the atmosphere, amplifying the effects of climate change

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: The release of CO2 from thawing permafrost forms a dangerous feedback loop, accelerating global warming
• This research highlights critical vulnerabilities in permafrost areas, emphasizing the need for urgent climate action to mitigate these effects

⏭️ What's next: Understanding the mechanisms behind increased CO2 release in thermokarst areas is essential for predicting and managing future carbon emissions from permafrost
• This knowledge will help in developing strategies to address climate change impacts more effectively

💬 One quote: "As a preliminary exploration of its global importance, extrapolating the warming response of soil CO2 flux to all upland thermokarst regions in the Northern Hemisphere, there could be an additional 0.4 Pg C year-1 of soil carbon release," said Professor YANG Yuanhe

📈 One stat: Soil CO2 release in thermokarst areas is approximately 5.5 times higher than in adjacent non-thermokarst regions

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