Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tundra changing rapidly, exacerbating the effects of global warming

Planet Ark reports that a study by Dr. Greg Henry of the University of British Columbia indicates that global warming is encouraging thicker plant growth across the tundra, making the region darker and absorbing more heat, which in turn causes ever increasing temperatures.  Since 1970, Henry observed that temperatures in the tundra region have risen by 1 degree C per decade (a total of about 4 degrees C) -- which is equal to the highest rates of warming that have been found anywhere.  In addition, Henry noted that tundra is giving off more nitrous oxide and methane than researchers had believed.  This would substantially reduce the amount of human-emitted greenhouse gases that can be emitted without dramatically affecting global temperatures.  Scientists also fear that as the permafrost in the Arctic melts, it will release vast amounts of carbon and methane into the atmosphere.

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