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Carbon Roundup

September 19, 2008

Climate change could melt the Arctic permafrost – which would release even more greenhouse gases.


Putting earth on a low-carb diet. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Pull the plug on your freezer, and very quickly microbes will turn all the plant and animal matter inside into a rotting mass of smelly gasses. Turns out, the same is true of the Arctic permafrost, where millions of years worth of organic matter lies frozen. And the gasses released are potent greenhouse gases that speed up global warming. In the journal Biosciences, scientists report that an acre of permafrost holds nine times more organic matter than an acre of forest—far more than was thought. The report makes protection of the permafrost a more urgent matter.

In other news, the US Geological survey is demonstrating something called Carbon Capture Farming. They’re planting wetland grasses that grow and die and gradually build up layers of carbon-rich peat. That captures carbon and provides flood protection. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.