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Giving Compass' Take:
• Brian Resnick explains that melting permafrost in the artic is releasing everything from stored carbon to potentially deadly diseases.
• How can funders work to mitigate the consequences of melting permafrost? Which communities need to prepare first to cope with these consequences?
• Learn about climate justice.
Our world’s northern polar region is warming twice as fast as the global average. And the consequences are easy to spot. On average, Arctic sea ice extent is shrinking every summer. The Greenland ice sheet is becoming unstable, and melting into the ocean at an accelerating rate.
Many changes in the Arctic are ominous, and some of the most troubling are occurring beneath the surface, in the permafrost. Permafrost is a layer of frozen soil that covers 25 percent of the Northern Hemisphere. It acts like a giant freezer, keeping microbes, carbon, poisonous mercury, and soil locked in place.
Now it’s melting. And things are getting weird and creepy: The ground warps, folds, and caves. Roadways built on top of permafrost have becoming wavy roller coasters through the tundra. Long-dormant microbes — some trapped in the ice for tens of thousands of years — are beginning to wake up, releasing equally ancient C02, and could potentially come to infect humans with deadly diseases. And the retreating ice is exposing frozen plants that haven’t seen the sun in 45,000 years, as radiocarbon dating research suggests.
Thawing permafrost is also a time bomb: There’s more carbon stored in the permafrost than in the atmosphere. Melting it risks accelerating global warming even further.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Wednesday released a 1,000-plus page report amassing all the best evidence on how the icy regions of the world and the oceans are threatened by climate change.
Read the full article about melting permafrost by Brian Resnick at Vox.