The Arctic has warmed nearly four times faster than the globe since 1979

NEWS JUST IN! The Arctic IS warming faster than we thought. In fact FOUR times as fast as the global average. A report published today in the scientific journal, Nature,... READ MORE

COUNTDOWN

CO2 Budget Depletion

A THAWING ARCTIC LANDSCAPE RELEASES MORE GREENHOUSE GAS

THE RISK

PERMAFROST THAW RELEASES SUNK CARBON. The Arctic’s permanently frozen ground - home to enormous amounts of trapped carbon - is warming quickly as the global climate changes. The thawing soil is expected to release about 18 billion tonnes of CO2 for every 1°C of warming into the future and has the potential to unleash vast amounts (200 Peta-tonnes) of methane directly into the atmosphere - a potent greenhouse gas that is currently frozen as clathrates within soil, wetlands and subglacially across the Arctic.

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A HOTTER, DRIER ARCTIC DRIVES POLLUTING WILDFIRES. The Arctic - now heating up three times faster than the world as a whole - has experienced two extreme summers of large-scale wildfires in recent years. Wildfires in Siberia burned six million hectares (about the size of Lithuania) and, according to the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, released 800 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2021, which is approximately equivalent to the yearly emissions of Germany.

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IPCC FINDINGS

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the world’s most authoritative source on climate change. It reviews all published literature to provide comprehensive and objective scientific information.

AS PERMAFROST THAWS, A CARBON VAULT IS UNLOCKED

The Arctic’s permanently frozen ground is thawing quickly and, thanks to climate-affected warmer, dryer soil, is increasingly prone to fires, according to the UN’s latest special report on climate science. Half of all Arctic land (not including land under permanent ice sheets and glaciers) is frozen as permafrost, but, thanks to climate change, the frozen ground has warmed by more than a quarter of a degree Celsius every year between 2007 and 2016.

  • Temperatures in permanently frozen Arctic ground between 10 to 20 metres deep have reached record highs in recent decades.
  • The volume of frozen soil within the upper three meters of this permafrost ground is expected to decrease by about 25% for every 1°C of global warming into the future.
  • Thawing permafrost in mountainous areas is expected to make slopes less stable and rockslides more common.
  • Weather conditions favourable to wildfires are expected to occur more often in many regions of the world as the planet warms.
  • So-called low-probability “unprecedented extremes,” such as wildfires in parts of the Arctic, are expected to become less rare.

PERMAFROST THAW

Enormous areas of permanently frozen ground across the Arctic have warmed by more than a quarter of a degree Celsius every year between 2007 and 2016. These surface soil and pockets of deeper ground in these fast-thawing permafrost regions are among the largest storehouses of carbon in the world, holding between 1.4 and 1.6 trillion tonnes of the greenhouse gas—equivalent to up to 37 years of current total global emissions.

ARCTIC WILDFIRE EMISSIONS

DATA SOURCE

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CO2 equivalent emissions in thousand tonnes caused by wild fires in different latitudnal regions . Dataset is based on Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) Global Fire Assimilation system.