The increasing amount of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere is causing enough discomfiture and the latest news is that nature is also going to make the going that much more difficult. The Arctic permafrost contains a huge amount of Carbon which will be converted into Carbon Dioxide once it enters freshwater systems. The process was once believed to be caused by microbial activity. However a new study has found that Sunlight could be the cause of this process.
Permafrost is frozen water which is trapped in soil in area which never warms to the level that the ground thaws. However Global warming caused by emission of green house gasses, parts of Arctic are having increased temperatures. This is melting the permafrost and also frozen ground.
The process of thawing leads to melting of the permafrost with the melting water interacting with carbon in soil. This produces worryingly high levels of Carbon Dioxide and Methane, both green house gasses. The common belief was that this process was caused by Microbes. However the team was able to prove that this process could occur even without the help of microbes.
Rose Cory, an aquatic geochemist and the first author of the study, said, “Our results suggest that sunlight, rather than biological processes, controls the fate of carbon released from thawing permafrost soils into Arctic surface waters,”
The fact that carbon release can happen even without the involvement of the microbes is a major departure from the commonly held notions. It is a completely new thinking about how the carbon cycle works in the Arctic.
The permafrost in the Arctic is melting and the action of sunlight is much faster than microbes in turning organic carbon into carbon dioxide. It will give a better understanding about the effects of melting permafrost in the Arctic regions on the global weather patterns.