Environment

Climate study claims dramatic reduction in periglacial zones is now inevitable

Climate study claims dramatic ...
Intense soil frost churning at Kilpisjärvi, northwestern Finland, at 800 meters above sea level
Intense soil frost churning at Kilpisjärvi, northwestern Finland, at 800 meters above sea level
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Intense soil frost churning at Kilpisjärvi, northwestern Finland, at 800 meters above sea level
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Intense soil frost churning at Kilpisjärvi, northwestern Finland, at 800 meters above sea level

Scientists surveying the state of the world's periglacial zones, cold regions often home to layers of frozen ground called permafrost, report that the days for many such regions may be numbered. The team now expects climate change to severely reduce periglacial coverage by halfway through the century, no matter what course of action we take in the meantime.

The team is made up of researchers from the University of Exeter, the University of Helsinki and the Finnish Meteorological Institute, who investigated the natural processes triggered by frost and snow in these periglacial zones, which cover about a quarter of the Earth's land surface.

This meant taking a close look at things like snow accumulation and "frost churning" (materials mixing during freezing and thawing), along with how they will be impacted by a warming climate.

"The project used very high-resolution climate and land surface models to demonstrate that geological processes and ecosystems in high latitudes (the far north and south) will be fundamentally altered by climate change during this century," said Dr Stephan Harrison, of the University of Exeter.

According to the team, even going by the most optimistic of carbon emission estimates, periglacial zones will be reduced "dramatically" by 2050 and almost disappear entirely by 2100, when they will only exist in high mountain zones. And they say that changes to the geological processes will not only have a local impact by altering the landscape and threatening biodiversity, it could kick off what are known as climate feedback loops.

"The anticipated changes in land surface processes can feedback to the regional climate system via alterations in carbon cycle and ground surface reflectance (light reflected by snow and ice) caused by the increase of shrub vegetation to alpine tundra," said Professor Miska Luoto, of the University of Helsinki. "Our results indicate significant changes in Northern European plant life. Many rare species can only be sustained in areas of intense frost activity or late-lying snow packs, so the disappearance of such unique environments will reduce biodiversity."

The team has published its research in the journal Nature Communications.

Source: University of Exeter

5 comments
Anne Ominous
Just like the ones that said Cyclones would be more frequent and severe?
I hate to tell folks this, but Harvery and Irma are nothing special at all.
Global cyclonic energy has been at an all-time low for a very long time.
Even so, a record LACK of hurricanes in the US can only last so long.
teddilu
in case it is not clear, this means that scientists think that we are fried (or another word with f..). First sea ice gone in a few years , then glacier and icecap melting while we get runaway warming, permafrost burping huge amount of methane and dying oceans releasing clouds of sulphidric acid. And yes, it will be our fault: we are burning and wasting everything we can put our hands on. This has happened before naturally.Then, almost everything died. Now we are pulling this on ourselves.. to make a few bucks. Dumb.
chase
Say what you want but we've seen rising tidal waters over the past 15-20 years. They increase each year. Tides are breaching sea walls, flooding streets and towns.
The situation is real enough that 3 counties have come together and created a special task force if you will, to try and come up with a solution. As of yet, they haven't.
I would imagine the melting of these areas will increase tides even more so.
Drying up of areas in the US they said would happen is also real.
Nature is changing.. what ever the reason.
Robert in Vancouver
There hasn't been any change to sea levels where I live which is right on the shore of the Pacific Ocean for the past 28 years. So if the Pacific Ocean isn't rising, it means sea levels aren't rising, which means there has been no global warming. Now the science is settled with an honest fact I can prove over and over (unlike global warming which is based on predictions that have been proven wrong).
aki009
In other news, a climate change study claims that a new ice age is inevitable. Only open question is exactly when it will take place.