By: Amanda Turner
Summary. On June 20, 2020, Verkhoyansk, Russia experienced the highest temperature ever recorded in the Arctic Circle. Reaching 38deg Celsius (100deg Fahrenheit), temperatures are continuing to reach dangerous levels, which is leading to the permafrost melting, the collapsing of infrastructures, fuel spills, and an increased amount of methane being released into the atmosphere. These high temperatures are becoming common for Siberia, with the monthly average temperature in some areas reaching more than 10deg Celsius (50deg Fahrenheit) higher than the previous average. For many, though, the increased temperatures do not come as a surprise as the prevalence of climate change is becoming evident throughout the world. A group of scientists from the Met Office found that the heatwave was 600 times more likely than it was in 1900, and this sudden switch is all due to climate change. Wildfires are burning is Siberian forests, tree-eating moths are swarming the land, and the permafrost is melting. The National Resources Defense Council defines Permafrost as any ground that has been frozen for at least two years, but this can range up to hundreds of thousands of years. Alongside, the NRDC lists that some impacts of melting permafrost as the emission of greenhouse gases, collapsing infrastructures, altered landscapes, and a possible increased risk of disease. Fifty-six megatons of carbon dioxide were released as the result of wildfires in Siberian forests in June alone and 150,000 barrels of diesel were leaked into a river which is now endangering a nature reserve near the Arctic Ocean. Additionally, one of the coldest cities on Earth, Yakutsk in Siberia, is fearing losing their homes as the permafrost melts; many homes and buildings will only stay standing if the permafrost in in-tact. Some damage has already been done in this city, with some buildings having already fallen and many already having damage to their infrastructure. Many communities in Siberia are losing their homes, and the rest of the world will soon experience the effects of the melting permafrost.
Why we should care? The increased temperatures and the melting permafrost are dangerous to cities and other populations in Siberia, even putting nature reserves at risk. The results of the melting permafrost will affect the entire world.
This article highlights the dangers of the melting permafrost, specifically the methane and carbon emissions. It goes into detail on exactly why the melting permafrost is dangerous in relation to emissions, and it breaks down the process on how microbes release carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. Scientists in the article explain the difference between the effects of the melting wetlands and the melting limestone in Siberia; the thawing limestone’s emissions of hydrocarbons and gas hydrates are more dangerous and abundant than the emissions of the thawing wetland. With the thawing of the limestone, more microbes can access it and release more carbon dioxide and methane into the air. With the increased emissions of carbon and methane, climate change will only get worse, and the rest of the world will witness the effects.
Science in Action.
Dr. Dim Coumou is a Climate Scientist and Associate Professor at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Dim Coumou primarily researches global warming and how it influences extreme weather events. He coordinates Climate Data Science Research at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, and he has expertise in several areas including climate change, climate models, and extreme weather. The melting of the permafrost and the increased temperatures of the Arctic Circle both fall under his areas of expertise. Most scientists predict that climate change is a large factor in the heat wave, and the melting permafrost is an example of extreme weather, especially for the Arctic. Dim believes that this heat wave, and melting permafrost, would have never occurred in a preindustrial society. The effects that the melting permafrost have on the environment will continue to affect the planet and will contribute heavily to climate change.
Wow, this is a really sad reality that we are facing. Climate change is truly starting to take affect in some of the world's most delicate areas, including Siberia. Hearing that permafrost is melting is troubling.
It always hurts me that this world we know is quickly changing, and will never recover from these effects in our lifetimes. That the coldest city in the world, Yakutsk, is at risk of physically collapsing due to climate change. I am worried even more knowing the decay of limestone leads to increased CO2 and methane emissions that our grandchildren will grow up in a world alien to ours.
This article was interesting to me because I was unaware of the city of Siberia, Yakutsk. It is amazing that their cities' infrastructures are dependent on the permafrost due to how much there is and that global climate change is severe enough to actually be able to directly affect human living situations. I feel like as humans we still view our species as untouched by climate change and that the worst is still yet to come, however Yakutsk is a perfect example of this not being true. I also am amazed to hear about the diesel spill. I have not seen anything about this pop up online and do not understand why this has not gained more public attention. I imagine ecosystems at those latitudes to be extremely susceptible to minute fluctuations in their environment since it’s so remote that they are relatively undisturbed. It is incredible to believe that thawing limestone can be worse than wetland emissions. I am curious to know to what extent do these permafrost related emissions hurt the globe? As in, what percentage of methane and carbon dioxide do these microbes participate in giving? What solutions are available to fix or help in this area of the world? How do the people that live there feel about climate change especially since they are being directly confronted by it? When looking at the nature reserve being affected by the diesel spill, what animals are most at risk that live in that environment? Also how will this contaminated water affect the water cycle there?
Hey Amanda, I really enjoyed your post! It's scary to think of how climate change is so severely impacting areas around the world such as in Siberia. I can't imagine living in an area of permafrost, especially in a time of global warming. Understandably we can't undo global warming, however, if stories such as this went viral and were more widespread, I feel individuals and companies would work harder to try and reduce usage of fossil fuels as they ultimately cause the most damage. If more people would transition to renewable and carbon-free energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydro, we wouldn't be seeing temperatures rising to the extent they are.
This article is so interesting yet disturbing! It was intriguing to read about increasing temperatures all the way over in Russia, because beforehand I only really knew about rising temperatures in the western hemisphere. It is sickening to see that Russia's highest temperature is 100 degrees F! That is also an insane amount of CO2 gas released from the Siberian wildfires. I think more awareness should be brought to this topic, and I am now more interested in reading about heat change in this part of the world.
This article and blog post was enlightening to me because it showed how much global warming is affecting some of these regions, despite it not garnering nearly enough international attention. I knew the permafrost was melting but it never occurred to me that it would cause an excess of water in those regions where it used to be and cause infrastructure problems. I find this very concerning as it means land is becoming less livable in warm and cold climates due to climate change. I would have thought that colder climates would be a refuge for populations when land nearer to the equator became to hot and arid for farming but this may not be the case.
Wow I can’t believe that the temperature actually gets that high. A 50 degree temperature change is incredibly drastic! The infrastructure damage due to global warming is not a topic I often hear brought up. People always talk about what is happening to the environment but not what the global warming is actually doing to human infrastructure. That’s wild to think about. Very informational. Thank you
The change in temperature that was recorded is very alarming. I think the way this is damaging infrastructure is interesting because I've never thought of permafrost that way. I always think about what global warming is doing to the environment, but I've never thought about what it is doing to man made infrastructure.
Leave a Reply.
Students of ESG 1500