Permfrost Retreat in Canada and Sweden

In one of the scarier predictions about oncoming climate change, warming permafrost releases vast amounts of methane, a much more potent, though shorter lived, greenhouse gas than CO2. Instead of a slowly rising entrapment of the sun’s reflected heat we get a massive, quick injection: the sauna doors are clamped shut and breathing gets difficult, even down near the floors.

So this report from Canada is not good.

The southern limit of permafrost in the James Bay Region in northern Quebec, Canada is now 130 kilometers further north than it was 50 years ago, according to two researchers from the Department of Biology at Université Laval.


Similar trends exist in northern Sweden.

“At one of our sites, permafrost has completely disappeared from the greater part of the mire during the last decade,” she says.

In areas where permafrost is thawing the ground becomes unstable and can collapse. This can be a local and regional problem in areas with cities and infrastructure. Moreover, the thaw can cause increased emissions of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane from the ground. Roughly 25 percent of all land surface in the northern hemisphere are underlain by permafrost.

The thawing of permafrost that occurs today is likely to continue, in Margareta Johansson’s view. She regards it as probable that there will be no permafrost in lowland areas around Abisko in 50 years.

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