Disasterland in Feedback Loops

Material Just added to savetheoxygen.org :

From Now You See It: How to write about the natural world when it’s vanishing before your eyes. by Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker, October 15th, 2018:

He gives the perennial sea ice until 2030 or so. ‘That the Arctic Ocean will become free of sea ice in late Summer to early Autumn is a given.’ he writes.

Both Wadhams and Serreze anticipate the loss will have disastrous and, as it were, snowballing consequences. Sea ice reflects sunlight, while open water absorbs it, so melting ice leads to further warming, which leads to more melt, and so on. (This past winter, parts of the Arctic saw temperatures of up to forty-five degrees above normal, even as parts of the United States and Europe were being buried under snow; some scientists believe the two phenomena are related, though others note that the link is, at this point, unproved.) Arctic soils contain hundreds of billions of tons of carbon, in the form of frozen and only partially decomposed plants. As the region heats up, much of this carbon is likely to be released into the atmosphere, where it will trap the heat—another feedback loop. [emphasis mine] In the Arctic Ocean, vast stores of methane lie buried under frozen sediments. If these stores, too, are released, the resulting warming is likely to be catastrophic. “The risk of an Arctic seabed methane pulse is one of the greatest immediate risks facing the human race,” Wadhams writes [original emphasis].

“This is definitely disaster movie material” is how Serreze puts it.

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