The situation will only improve.
Scientists came to the conclusion that coastal erosion of the permafrost in the Arctic is an important process that accelerates global warming.
Scientists knew that about 11 500, 14 600 and 16 500 years ago in the atmosphere dramatically increased the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But the reasons for this until recently remained unclear.
Now scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute together with colleagues from Copenhagen and Zurich studied a sample of the Okhotsk sea on the Eastern coast of Russia. They have discovered traces of plants that were several thousand years older than the surrounding deposits. This meant that they must be initially stored in an extremely old permafrost, which somehow began to melt.
Researchers have found a solution to this puzzle when they looked at changes in sea levels after the last ice age. About 11 500 and 14 600 years ago, especially the intensive melting of glaciers has led to the so-called melt water pulses, and each time the sea level rose 20 meters in a few centuries.
The authors suggest that this has led to serious coastal erosion of permafrost in the sea of Okhotsk and the North Pacific ocean, and this same phenomenon is happening in the Arctic today. This process allows a large amount of plant remains accumulated over thousands of years, to get to the ocean, where some of them are due to the bacteria involved in the production of carbon dioxide.
To determine whether and erosion of permafrost in the past could be a key factor in the increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide, the scientists built a model of the global carbon cycle: the cycle of carbon-containing compounds between the atmosphere, oceans and the upper layers of the earth’s mantle.
Evaluating the area of the glaciers melted, they obtained data on the likely amounts of carbon dioxide. It turned out that 11 500 14 600 years ago, its concentration has increased by about 50%, and 16 500 years ago – a quarter.
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