Friday, November 30, 2012

Global Climate Change: Thawing of the Arctic Tundra

The above is a great short video about the effects of the warming planet on Arctic tundra.  Tundra by definition is ground that is permanently in a frozen state.  During the short and few summer months, tundra only thaws on the surface.  Deeper down however, the ground remains frozen year round.  This only allows for small shallow rooted plants to grow and prevents larger plants such as trees from ever taking root into the frozen ground.  The constantly frozen ground also does not allow plant materials to decay once they die.  Dead plant materials simply die and other plants grow on top of them.  This causes a thick accumulation of dead, un-decayed plant materials to pile-up, forming peat.  The great expansiveness of peat in Arctic tundra is a gigantic holding place for a huge amount of carbon dioxide.  The carbon dioxide simply remains locked up in the peat because of the cold and frozen conditions.  Recent warming of tundra peat however has caused some thawing and therefore allowing decay to take place in this peat.  As the decay takes place, carbon dioxide that was held in the peat is released into the atmosphere contributing to increased global temperatures.  Anyway, check out the above video for a short look on a scientific experiment and some of the potential effects of a warming climate.

No comments:

Post a Comment