New climate warnings in old permafrost

by Bob Berwyn, Inside Climate News 


  • A new study in Science Advances says that only a few degrees of warming is needed for large scale permafrost thawing, which would release methane and carbon dioxide that has been trapped in the frost 
  • The permafrost regions of the arctic hold more carbon dioxide than the Earth’s atmosphere. If this carbon is released rapidly in large amounts it will accelerate climate change 
  • This tipping point due to permafrost melt has been seen before in other warming phases of the planet’s history
  • It is uncertain how much of this released carbon could be sequestered by peatlands and new arctic shrubs that have grown due to the warming of that region
  • The melting of permafrost is impacting indigenous peoples in the arctic, as the infrastructure they rely on is built on the collapsing permafrost

Scientists are increasingly warning that to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change, the world’s governments must implement policies for massive greenhouse gas emissions reductions and begin a drawdown of carbon from the atmosphere within ten years. With 9 of 15 global tipping points now active, what we do today can either unleash an inhospitable hothouse Earth or secure a safe climate well into the future. For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.

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NPS Climate Change Response NPS Photo (C.Ciancibelli)

Melting permafrost in record heat in Arctic damages Russia’s oil & gas network causing oil spill

by Chanan Bos, Clean Technica


Many of Russia’s oil wells are built on permafrost, a layer of frozen soil, sand, and gravel. This permafrost is now melting quickly, jeopardizing the country’s oil supplies and accelerating climate change

  • The permafrost these oil wells are built on is considered contiguous, meaning it stays frozen for thousands of years. However, this year-round permafrost is melting for the first time at a rapid pace that scientists didn’t anticipate for another 30 to 80 years
  • The melting of permafrost releases carbon dioxide (CO2) trapped in the ice. The releasing of carbon can heat up more permafrost, resulting in more CO2 being released into the atmosphere
  • In the Siberian city of Norilsk, a storage tank of diesel owned by Norilsk-Taimyr Energy Co. collapsed, spilling 6,000 tons of oil into the ground and 15,000 tons into local bodies of water
  • The collapse is attributed to the failure of the supporting posts of the storage tank, likely due to the melting of permafrost
  • This has led Vladimir Putin to declare a state of emergency while the energy company involved is facing a criminal case of negligence for not reporting the spill 

The transition to 100% clean energy and electrification is a key to achieving the goals of The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Platform.

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The Arctic’s thawing ground is releasing a shocking amount of dangerous gases

by Craig Welch, National Geographic


Abrupt thaw, the accelerated melting of permafrost, is releasing GHGs in the arctic:

  • New studies on abrupt thaw suggest that permafrost will play a more significant role in GHG emissions than previously believed . However, it’s affects are small compared to the burning of fossil fuels throughout the world
  • The warming of ice and arctic grounds will cause changes in landscape which can result in more moisture being released, more water bodies forming, and ultimately, the release of methane previously trapped in the land 
  • Previous IPCC assessments haven’t incorporated permafrost emissions in their reports; accelerating the need to meet emissions targets at a faster rate

Because of the alarming climate impacts we are experiencing much earlier than expected, The Climate Center supports carbon neutrality by 2030 and net negative emissions by 2035. Find more information on accelerating timelines for rapid decarbonization here.

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Some arctic ground no longer freezing — even in winter

by Craig Welch, National Geographic

Nikita Zimov was teaching students to do ecological fieldwork in northern Siberia when he stumbled on a disturbing clue that the frozen land might be thawing far faster than expected.

Zimov, like his father, Sergey Zimov, has spent years running a research station that tracks climate change in the rapidly warming Russian Far East. So when students probed the ground and took soil samples amid the mossy hummocks and larch forests near his home, 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Nikita Zimov suspected something wasn’t right.

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