We can endlessly dispute whether the changes are man-made or natural, but change isn’t a question, it’s a reality. From Arthur Max via AP:
CHERSKY, Russia – The Russian scientist shuffles across the frozen lake, scuffing aside ankle-deep snow until he finds a cluster of bubbles trapped under the ice. With a cigarette lighter in one hand and a knife in the other, he lances the ice like a blister. Methane whooshes out and bursts into a thin blue flame.
Gas locked inside Siberia’s frozen soil and under its lakes has been seeping out since the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago. But in the past few decades, as the Earth has warmed, the icy ground has begun thawing more rapidly, accelerating the release of methane — a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide — at a perilous rate.
Some scientists believe the thawing of permafrost could become the epicenter of climate change. They say 1.5 trillion tons of carbon, locked inside icebound earth since the age of mammoths, is a climate time bomb waiting to explode if released into the atmosphere.
“Here, total carbon storage is like all the rain forests of our planet put together,” says the scientist, Sergey Zimov — “here” being the endless sweep of snow and ice stretching toward Siberia’s gray horizon, as seen from Zimov’s research facility nearly 350 kilometers (220 miles) above the Arctic Circle…
[continues at AP]