Arctic Lakes Release Less Carbon Than The Scientists Estimated

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Due to global warming, the Arctic regions are heating up, and one outcome of that is the permafrost thawing. Permafrost is holding more than twice the carbon found in the atmosphere, and, as it melts, the microorganisms in the soil start consuming more organic materials and releasing carbon dioxide or methane at higher rates, corroborating with our greenhouse gas emissions, accelerating the climate change. But, in a recent study, the scientists concluded that Arctic lakes release less carbon than the scientists estimated, a fact that’s in our favor, for the moment.

The process is simple. A hotter and more humid climate makes the carbon dioxide stores by plants to move into lakes. From there, the carbon goes into the Earth’s atmosphere, increasing the atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases. Luckily, that’s not happening at the alarming rate previous studies estimated. In reality, Arctic lakes, at least, release less carbon than those previous estimations revealed.

Arctic Lakes Release Less Carbon Than The Scientists Estimated

“We found that not all high-latitude lakes are big chimneys of carbon to the atmosphere and that lakes in the region are not actively processing much permafrost or plant carbon from land. Documenting the heterogeneous nature of northern lakes, as we have done here, will better define the role of Arctic lakes in the global carbon cycle,” said lead author Matthew Bogard, a postdoctoral researcher in the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences.

“The problem that we overcame in this study is getting to some logistically challenging places to get a better picture of what’s happening across the Arctic, which literally has millions of lakes. These findings show the need to understand the diversity of the ecosystems in this region better,” also said David Butman, the senior author of the new study. “The implications are that not all lakes are hot spots for releasing carbon from land. But we don’t yet know how these particular landscapes will change in a warmer climate since this is the first time they’ve been studied,” he added.


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