One of the big unknowns in predicting climate change is the billions of tons of carbon frozen in Arctic permafrost.
(From Science Daily) — As global warming causes soil temperatures to increase, some of this carbon will decompose and enter the atmosphere and accelerate climate change.
Although permafrost carbon has the potential to be a huge player in the planet’s climate, it’s difficult to predict the amount that will enter the atmosphere for a given increase in temperature. That’s because the current way to estimate feedback between permafrost carbon and climate is by using complex Earth system models that include a wide range of atmospheric and land surface phenomena. When it comes to representing the dynamics of permafrost carbon, these models don’t use data from direct observations of the amount of carbon that is currently frozen in Arctic permafrost.
Now, a team of researchers led by a scientist from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has developed a simple model of permafrost carbon based on direct observations. Their approach could help climate scientists evaluate how well permafrost dynamics are represented in Earth system models used to predict climate change.
The scientists present their research in a paper published online Oct. 5 in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A.
Read the full article here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151005132854.htm