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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

The Conservation Alliance

Melting Tundra Explodes

                  Arctic tundra melts (credit: Ingur)

Parts of the Siberian tundra have begun turning into "jelly" as its underlying permafrost melts. Sub-soils, frozen since the Pleistocene ice ages, are beginning to liquefy and symptomatic of the rapidly changing Arctic climate. This also has the potential for releases of stored carbon.

The unfrozen soil, rich in carbon-filled peat, is now being exposed to bacteria and fungi which starts the decomposition process. The dead and previously frozen plant material releases methane as it rots. Russian researchers have discovered pockets of methane gas that have developed under the tundra and some have explosived abruptly. According to the Siberian Times, the tundra explosions have been heard nearly 60 miles away. Such 'methane bombs' appear to be increasing as well. Methane is 4-times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Melting permafrost should be of critical concern if it turns from a local event into one of a polar-wide scale.

WHB

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