Ramifications of thawing permafrost

stubeeef

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Aug 10, 2004
2,702
2
Brrrrrrrrrr
Vladimir Romanovsky, an associate professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Geophysical Institute said the impact is already apparent. In Fairbanks a path has buckled into undulating waves, houses are slumping into thawed ground and stands of birch trees are toppling as dying forested areas melt into swamps.

Melting permafrost has even opened up a gaping hole in the earth near his office at the university. "It's a great place to study permafrost, right behind the building," Romanovsky said.

He presented a summary of his research into changes in the permafrost at an energy symposium in Anchorage.

Over the past 30 years, soil temperatures have risen 1 degree to 3 degrees Celsius, according to Romanovsky's study. Along the trans-Alaska pipeline, the permafrost temperatures rose by 0.6 degrees to 1.5 degrees Celsius in 20 years.

Because permafrost holds methane, the thaw will also accelerate the climate-warming greenhouse effect created by gases in the atmosphere "This methane will be released into the atmosphere, adding directly to the greenhouse gases," Romanovsky said.
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
24,378
110
Location Location Location
But other parts of the Earth will freeze soon.

I don't really know what to think about "global warming" and all that, but what I think is that there are many changes happening to all parts of the world, and it'll all even itself out at the end. :)
 

gwuMACaddict

macrumors 68040
Apr 21, 2003
3,124
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washington dc
i read an article the other day from the national science foundation that said the ice caps were growing again... i'll post if i find it again...
 

rainman::|:|

macrumors 603
Feb 2, 2002
5,438
2
iowa
right, it's nothing to worry about, because as every scientist knows, you can release thermal energy and gasses into the environment in huge amounts without consequence.
 

stubeeef

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Aug 10, 2004
2,702
2
rainman::|:| said:
right, it's nothing to worry about, because as every scientist knows, you can release thermal energy and gasses into the environment in huge amounts without consequence.
I think you forgot to add the rolling eyes, I hope.
 

Mr. Anderson

Moderator emeritus
Nov 1, 2001
22,407
0
VA
Well, the permafost thawing and its ramifications for construction up north are serious. You have to realize that all the buildings rely on the permafrost - you change this and it will cause serious issues...even if its temporary or localized.

D
 

aloofman

macrumors 68020
Dec 17, 2002
2,206
0
Socal
I think one of the biggest problems is the term "global warming". It makes it sound as if the whole planet is heating up when it's not. It's really parts of the planet warming up with ripple effects in many places.
 

crap freakboy

macrumors 6502a
Jul 17, 2002
867
0
nar in Gainsborough, me duck
Abstract said:
But other parts of the Earth will freeze soon.

I don't really know what to think about "global warming" and all that, but what I think is that there are many changes happening to all parts of the world, and it'll all even itself out at the end. :)

ever the optimist huh?

each to his own but I really can't understand this 'hey the planet'll sort itself out, no worries' or 'We're so darn clever we'll fix whatever damage we do, we'll adapt- it's what we do best'.

I'm not getting into a 'yes it is/no it ain't' debate, it just saddens me that globally we allow the media to sidetrack us with scare tatics regarding terrorists/interest rates/global slowdown while something that will probably change everyones lifes forever is dropped on at the end of the news as 'one more thing..'.
 

Mr. Anderson

Moderator emeritus
Nov 1, 2001
22,407
0
VA
Well, one thing is for certain is that the poles are seeing more of a change in temp than other areas - so even if it might be getting colder or wetter or what ever in your area - above the arctic circle things are starting to melt earlier and freeze later....

D
 

fox2005

macrumors member
Dec 31, 2004
88
0
Lima, Peru
crap freakboy said:
ever the optimist huh?

each to his own but I really can't understand this 'hey the planet'll sort itself out, no worries' or 'We're so darn clever we'll fix whatever damage we do, we'll adapt- it's what we do best'.

I'm not getting into a 'yes it is/no it ain't' debate, it just saddens me that globally we allow the media to sidetrack us with scare tatics regarding terrorists/interest rates/global slowdown while something that will probably change everyones lifes forever is dropped on at the end of the news as 'one more thing..'.

I second you...
 

EGT

macrumors 68000
Sep 4, 2003
1,606
1
crap freakboy said:
ever the optimist huh?

each to his own but I really can't understand this 'hey the planet'll sort itself out, no worries' or 'We're so darn clever we'll fix whatever damage we do, we'll adapt- it's what we do best'.

I'm not getting into a 'yes it is/no it ain't' debate, it just saddens me that globally we allow the media to sidetrack us with scare tatics regarding terrorists/interest rates/global slowdown while something that will probably change everyones lifes forever is dropped on at the end of the news as 'one more thing..'.
I third you...
 

mischief

macrumors 68030
Aug 1, 2001
2,920
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Santa Cruz Ca
crap freakboy said:
each to his own but I really can't understand this 'hey the planet'll sort itself out, no worries' or 'We're so darn clever we'll fix whatever damage we do, we'll adapt- it's what we do best'.

.
I'll step in by saying:

The planet will go on with or without us. She's a resilient old girl... we aint.

We MUST fix this. Whether or not we have the talent we absolutely must try.
 

Kmacripple

macrumors member
Jan 20, 2005
47
0
Topeka, IN (aka Amish country)
No one really knows if global warming is real or not. Is it permanant or is it just part of a natural cycle. Greenhouse gases causing global warming has not been proven, it is still a theory. The earth's weather is much too complex for anyone to totally understand it. Maybe permafrost melts and refreezes in cycles we don't know about. I believe there was an ice age long before humans added gases to the atmosphere. I am not saying we should just keep polluting and not reduce greenhouse gas emmissions, but we would be foolish to think we can control climate changes. Climate and weather changes have always happened and always will.
 

aloofman

macrumors 68020
Dec 17, 2002
2,206
0
Socal
Kmacripple said:
No one really knows if global warming is real or not. Is it permanant or is it just part of a natural cycle. Greenhouse gases causing global warming has not been proven, it is still a theory. The earth's weather is much too complex for anyone to totally understand it. Maybe permafrost melts and refreezes in cycles we don't know about. I believe there was an ice age long before humans added gases to the atmosphere. I am not saying we should just keep polluting and not reduce greenhouse gas emmissions, but we would be foolish to think we can control climate changes. Climate and weather changes have always happened and always will.
I think that global warming has been established as real, but there's much debate over how much warming has happened. A couple degrees over a century is higher than in recent millenia, but not that drastic in the very long term. And frankly, I don't know if I believe that this amount isn't within the margin of error over that time. Nevertheless, it's been shown that some parts of the Earth have warmed significantly in the last 50 years.

I don't think that you can make a blanket claim that the Earth's climate is too complex for us to ever understand. Rather, we haven't been studying it long enough to develop a good understanding. The real conundrum is that action has to be taken soon (and Kyoto ain't it) to have an impact before our emissions rise so high that it's hard to reverse the trend, and yet it will be thousands of years before it's possible to be sure that we're even causing it. Geologic time takes that long. So if we wait to see if it's really us, it will be too late. If we act before we're sure, then we have a good chance, but it's hard to convince people of that. That's tough to wrap your head around.

To paraphrase a previous post, I'm not worried about the fate of the planet or most life on it. Much of it will adapt far better than we can. My concern is that if we don't prepare ourselves -- whether we're responsible or not -- we could face serious problems.
 

crap freakboy

macrumors 6502a
Jul 17, 2002
867
0
nar in Gainsborough, me duck
Global Warming Fast Facts

Climatic change is nothing new, what is new is the amount of people it will effect. We've created a system that is codependant on a myriad subsytems, if say in ten years the UK and lower nothern europe adopts the same climate as Siberia then there'll be massive economical/humanitarian fallout.
Like dominoes one effect will spread around the world. Sure social/economic structures can adapt to change, but the question is how fast and at what cost?
 

Mr. Anderson

Moderator emeritus
Nov 1, 2001
22,407
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VA
As Mischief mentioned, its not really a matter of whether its a natural event of man made one. With the increase in temperature continuing at its current rate, we're going to be in trouble - well, our grandkids will. Over the past century there has been a sharp increase in the temperature world wide - this dramatic a change doesn't show up in any paleoclimate. Something is out of balance and denying that is only going to make things worse.

Bleh,

D
 

Ugg

macrumors 68000
Apr 7, 2003
1,985
15
Penryn
Kmacripple said:
No one really knows if global warming is real or not. Is it permanant or is it just part of a natural cycle. Greenhouse gases causing global warming has not been proven, it is still a theory. The earth's weather is much too complex for anyone to totally understand it. Maybe permafrost melts and refreezes in cycles we don't know about. I believe there was an ice age long before humans added gases to the atmosphere. I am not saying we should just keep polluting and not reduce greenhouse gas emmissions, but we would be foolish to think we can control climate changes. Climate and weather changes have always happened and always will.

This argument just serves as a pair of blinders. Climate change is very real and thawing permafrost, the disappearing glaciers of the Alps and Mt. Kiliminjaro are very real. It will prove to be very disruptive to our lives. Ski operators in Switzerland will be out of business by the middle of the century, the roads in northern countries will turn into mush and the climate around Kiliminjaro will become extremely dry.

It seems in light of the above, we should do everything possible to not only study the issue further but also do what we can to alleviate the problems.

We are foolish if we think that homo sapiens doesn't have an impact on climate. Look at London during the Industrial Revolution or Houston, or Mexico City today. Human activities have had profoundly negative impacts on local and regional climates. It would be incredibly shortsighted to think that local and regional impacts cannot be duplicated globally.
 

Mr. Anderson

Moderator emeritus
Nov 1, 2001
22,407
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VA
Losing glaciers in the mountains is going to have very serious repercussions when the rivers fed by all the seasonal melt stop running. So much fresh water is generated that way all around the world - things are going to be getting a lot worse before they get better.

D
 

Rocksaurus

macrumors 6502a
Sep 14, 2003
652
0
California
crap freakboy said:
ever the optimist huh?

each to his own but I really can't understand this 'hey the planet'll sort itself out, no worries' or 'We're so darn clever we'll fix whatever damage we do, we'll adapt- it's what we do best'.

I'm not getting into a 'yes it is/no it ain't' debate, it just saddens me that globally we allow the media to sidetrack us with scare tatics regarding terrorists/interest rates/global slowdown while something that will probably change everyones lifes forever is dropped on at the end of the news as 'one more thing..'.
Do you own a car?
 

BrianKonarsMac

macrumors 65816
Apr 28, 2004
1,102
83
Abstract said:
But other parts of the Earth will freeze soon.

I don't really know what to think about "global warming" and all that, but what I think is that there are many changes happening to all parts of the world, and it'll all even itself out at the end. :)
your are 100% correct.

you know HOW it's going to balance itself out? we are going to kill everything on the planet, then become extinct as a species. this will restart the evolutionary process on earth. nothing to worry about.

at least at this rate that is how it will end.

and why do you put "global warming" in caps, do you think it's a figment of some lunatic scientists imagination? you scare me.
 

crap freakboy

macrumors 6502a
Jul 17, 2002
867
0
nar in Gainsborough, me duck
Rocksaurus said:
Do you own a car?
We, that is myself, my wife and our three year old daughter walk everywhere. We don't go shopping because we grow everything we eat in our 30 by 10 foot garden. Our clothes are woven from leaves and bark. Electricity is produced via hydroelectic micro wheels connected to every leaf on the cherry blossom tree in the garden. Holidays abroad are rather long affairs due to the lengthy swim over the english channel. :rolleyes:

Of course we have a car. Anyone who lives in London knows how bad the public transport system is. Its not a 5 ltr SUV though, just a merc A-Class 1.4, nothing special. I never said I was an eco-warrior, I'm as guilty as the next guy for using resources. I have a child...isnt that selfish enough? I just rather know the facts and be aware that major climatic change is on its way. Although what we do about it is another matter, we all love the government/consumer dance too much.
 

Rocksaurus

macrumors 6502a
Sep 14, 2003
652
0
California
crap freakboy said:
We, that is myself, my wife and our three year old daughter walk everywhere. We don't go shopping because we grow everything we eat in our 30 by 10 foot garden. Our clothes are woven from leaves and bark. Electricity is produced via hydroelectic micro wheels connected to every leaf on the cherry blossom tree in the garden. Holidays abroad are rather long affairs due to the lengthy swim over the english channel. :rolleyes:

Of course we have a car. Anyone who lives in London knows how bad the public transport system is. Its not a 5 ltr SUV though, just a merc A-Class 1.4, nothing special. I never said I was an eco-warrior, I'm as guilty as the next guy for using resources. I have a child...isnt that selfish enough? I just rather know the facts and be aware that major climatic change is on its way. Although what we do about it is another matter, we all love the government/consumer dance too much.
Yeah, I understand where you're coming from - there are a LOT of things I wish the media would tell us, but I get the feeling here in America foreign affairs aren't of particular interest to Americans because there's not as much coverage of them as I'd like, as well as environmental issues. I just bring up the car because, obviously I too would like this global warming to be addressed, but, admittedly, I'm not taking any personal steps to achieve it. :cool:
 

comictimes

macrumors 6502a
Jun 20, 2004
874
1
Berkeley, California
BrianKonarsMac said:
your are 100% correct.

you know HOW it's going to balance itself out? we are going to kill everything on the planet, then become extinct as a species. this will restart the evolutionary process on earth. nothing to worry about.

at least at this rate that is how it will end.

and why do you put "global warming" in caps, do you think it's a figment of some lunatic scientists imagination? you scare me.
I'd say he puts it in quotes because there are many theories as to why the earth has been warming in recent years, and global warming is only one of them, one that happens to have the most popular appeal because, as you demonstrated so aptly, it has the fear factor.

I'm not saying here that global warming is not true. There is a very good chance that the warming of the earth and the consequential melting of permafrost, glaciers, icebergs, etc is primarily a result of the massive amounts of gas that the human race outputs. It's just that people have to look at what else is being said, and not jump down the throat of anyone suggesting something other than global warming exists.


to the above poster, I'd say that to some people in America this is a very serious issue. One of my friends lives about five feet above sea level, so if too much ice melts, he'll have to relocate, so he's pretty worried about it...

But i think you're right- in general people here are more worried about having "evil Middle Eastern terrorists" come and blow them up. Thank you media and Bush...
 

dops7107

macrumors 6502a
Mar 19, 2005
993
0
Perth, Oztrailya
BrianKonarsMac said:
your are 100% correct.

you know HOW it's going to balance itself out? we are going to kill everything on the planet, then become extinct as a species. this will restart the evolutionary process on earth. nothing to worry about.

at least at this rate that is how it will end.
All too true I'm afraid. Over evolutionary history, most species that have ever existed are now extinct: wikipedia

There's no good reason to think Homo sapiens will be any different. The only reason we have the population levels we currently do is that we are skewing the supply of energy from the Sun towards ourselves through the use of fossil fuels. If we don't get a replacement to this soon, we'll get pretty hungry. Every natural species population on Earth is limited by resources - we just haven't reached our imit yet. But we are heading for a "boom and bust" population structure in my opinion.

As for future fuels... hydrogen may be fine provided a) it is produced via renewable energy and b) we find an alternative to platinum as a catlayst for the fuel cells, cos there sure aint enough of it in the world to power all the cars we currently have! :rolleyes: