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UF researcher: Climate change may happen more quickly than expected


12/2/2011 12:00 AM
Climate Change Research(UF News) GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As global temperatures continue to rise at an accelerated rate due to deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels, natural stores of carbon in the Arctic are cause for serious concern, researchers say.
 
In an article scheduled to be published Thursday in the journal Nature, a survey of 41 international experts led by University of Florida ecologist Edward Schuur shows models created to estimate global warming may have underestimated the magnitude of carbon emissions from permafrost over the next century. Its effect on climate change is projected to be 2.5 times greater than models predicted, partly because of the amount of methane released in permafrost, or frozen soil.
 
“We’re talking about carbon that’s in soil, just like in your garden where there’s compost containing carbon slowly breaking down, but in permafrost it’s almost stopped because the soil is frozen,” Schuur said. “As that soil warms up, that carbon can be broken down by bacteria and fungi, and as they metabolize, they are releasing carbon and methane, greenhouse gases that cause warmer temperatures.”

 

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