Tag Archives: permafrost

Short lives, violent deaths: Two CT-scanned Siberian mammoth calves yield trove of insights

ANN ARBOR — CT scans of two newborn woolly mammoths recovered from the Siberian Arctic are revealing previously inaccessible details about the early development of prehistoric pachyderms. In addition, the X-ray images show that both creatures died from suffocation after inhaling mud.

Lyuba and Khroma, who died at ages 1 and 2 months, respectively, are the most complete and best-preserved baby mammoth specimens ever found. Lyuba’s full-body CT scan, which used an industrial scanner at a Ford testing facility in Michigan, was the first of its kind for any mammoth. (more…)

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Environmental Issues: How True the Climate Changes Affecting Biodiversity

A changing climate has implications on biodiversity without any doubt. Species in the past have been sensitive to changes in the climate; that has been proved time and again by the fossilized remains and pollen distribution studies. It has been seen or can be concluded safely that climate changes have led to extinction of species in one area and colonization in another.

It is improbable that all species can or will be able to adapt to changing conditions specially the sudden changes. This leads to impact in ecosystem dynamics and also on community composition. (more…)

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Increase in Metal Concentrations in Rocky Mountain Watershed Tied to Warming Temperatures

Warmer air temperatures since the 1980s may explain significant increases in zinc and other metal concentrations of ecological concern in a Rocky Mountain watershed, reports a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Colorado Boulder.

Rising concentrations of zinc and other metals in the upper Snake River just west of the Continental Divide near Keystone, Colo., may be the result of falling water tables, melting permafrost and accelerating mineral weathering rates, all driven by warmer air temperatures in the watershed.  Researchers observed a fourfold increase in dissolved zinc over the last 30 years during the month of September. (more…)

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Thawing Permafrost 50 Million Years Ago Led To Warm Global Events, Says New Study

A new study led by the University of Massachusetts Amherst and involving the University of Colorado Boulder proposes a simple new mechanism to explain the source of carbon that fed a series of extreme warming events on Earth about 50 million years ago called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM, as well as a sequence of similar, smaller warming events afterward.

“The standard hypothesis has been that the source of carbon was in the ocean in the form of frozen methane gas in ocean-floor sediments,” said lead study author Rob DeConto of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “We are instead ascribing the carbon source to the continents in polar latitudes where permafrost can store massive amounts of carbon that can be released as CO2 when the permafrost thaws.” (more…)

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Preparing for a Thaw: How Arctic Microbes Respond to a Warming World

From the North Pole to the Arctic Ocean, the frozen soils within this region keep an estimated 1,672 billion metric tons of carbon out of the Earth’s atmosphere. This sequestered carbon is more than 250 times the amount of greenhouse gas emissions attributed to the United States in the year 2009. As global temperatures slowly rise, however, so too do concerns regarding the potential impacts upon the carbon cycle when the permafrost thaws and releases the carbon that has been trapped for eons.  Like so many of the planet’s critical environmental processes, the smallest players—microbes—have the most significant influence over the eventual outcome. (more…)

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UF Study Shows Tundra Fires Could Accelerate Climate Warming

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — After a 10,000-year absence, wildfires have returned to the Arctic tundra, and a University of Florida study shows that their impact could extend far beyond the areas blackened by flames.

In a study published in the July 28 issue of the journal Nature, UF ecologist Michelle Mack and a team of scientists including fellow UF ecologist Ted Schuur quantified the amount of soil-bound carbon released into the atmosphere in the 2007 Anaktuvuk River fire, which covered more than 400 square miles on the North Slope of Alaska’s Brooks Range. The 2.1 million metric tons of carbon released in the fire — roughly twice the amount of greenhouse gases put out by the city of Miami in a year — is significant enough to suggest that Arctic fires could impact the global climate, said Mack, an associate professor of ecosystem ecology in UF’s department of biology. (more…)

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‘Thawing Permafrost Likely Will Accelerate Global Warming in Coming Decades’

Up to two-thirds of Earth’s permafrost likely will disappear by 2200 as a result of warming temperatures, unleashing vast quantities of carbon into the atmosphere, says a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences.

The carbon resides in permanently frozen ground that is beginning to thaw in high latitudes from warming temperatures, which will impact not only the climate but also international strategies to reduce fossil fuel emissions, said CU-Boulder’s Kevin Schaefer, lead study author. “If we want to hit a target carbon dioxide concentration, then we have to reduce fossil fuel emissions that much lower than previously thought to account for this additional carbon from the permafrost,” he said. “Otherwise we will end up with a warmer Earth than we want.” (more…)

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