Leading Expert Concerned by Permafrost Melt
Professor Vladimir Romanovsky, one of the world’s leading experts has warned that permafrost in parts of Alaska could start to melt in the next 50 years. The prediction has raised concerns amongst scientists that methane frozen within the permafrost could be released exacerbating climate change.
Professor Romanovsky, who is part of the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost, is convinced that global warming is to blame for the rate of thawing which he called “unbelievable”. He told BBC News; “About 10 years ago when I looked at our records, I said that they all show that permafrost temperatures should cool down a bit on multi-decadal timescales. I told myself that if it would not cool down I would 100% believe in global warming, and now I believe 100% that we have this very serious trend of warming,”
Permafrost is defined as frozen soil that has been below zero degrees for a minimum of two years. Depths can range from one metre to 1,500m below the surface. It is found underneath 25% of the northern hemisphere mainly around the Arctic.
In recent years, warming permafrost has been linked to buckling roads, tree falls and sink holes appearing. The most dramatic effects are currently around the Prudhoe Bay area of northern Alaska. Scientists are also concerned about bubbling methane from permafrost beneath the shallow waters off the Russian Arctic although opinions are divided as to how serious a problem it may become.