Voracious Carbon Eating Microorganisms


Ponder hungry microorganisms lurking within the Arctic tundra. Vast regions of permafrost – defined as permanently frozen layers of rock, soil and sediment – now thawing at alarming rates due to increased global temperatures. I’m not talking the thin “active” top layer of permafrost covering 24% of Northern Hemisphere land – ponder deep layers of ancient glaciated tundra surrendering to the elements.

Boreholes in northern Canada, Norway and Russia indicate a .4 degree increase in ground temperatures at a depth of 60 meters. It might sound like no big deal – let me assure you otherwise. In the last decade it translates to an increase greater than the last 100 years. So why worry about mushy tundra?

Trapped in that permafrost are enormous amounts of formerly frozen ancient carbon. As the ground warms, billions of voracious microorganisms belly up to the all you can eat buffet. Devouring carbon releases vast amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere – CO2 that contributes to accelerated global warming.

Robert Spencer from the University of Florida, lead researcher of a paper published April 23, 2015 in Geophysical Research Letters said –

“When you have a huge frozen store of carbon and it’s thawing, we have some big questions. The primary question is when it thaws, what happens to it? Our research shows this ancient carbon is rapidly utilized by microbes and transferred to the atmosphere, leading to further warming in the region and therefore more thawing. So we get into a runaway effect.”

http://earthsky.org/earth/carbon-from-melting-permafrost-goes-back-to-atmosphere?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=1ac6825dd9-EarthSky_News&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-1ac6825dd9-393970565

http://icestories.exploratorium.edu/dispatches/big-ideas/tundra-and-permafrost/

While the climate denial camp busily pats itself on the back for convincing the masses we have nothing to worry about – stop and ask yourself why people gobble their self serving propaganda hook, line and sinker.

Why Pole Ice Matters


Melting ice caps mean a whole lot more than rising ocean levels. Arctic Tundra, thawing permafrost, diminished ice packs – seemingly insignificant, yet crucial on a global scale. I found and linked to this wordpress site, one able to explain the balance far better than I could.

http://wildtracks.wordpress.com/world-ecosystems/tundra-ecosystems/arctic-tundra-ecosystem/

As critical as the Arctic might be, it’s Antarctica that has me pondering. Would you believe me if I told you Antarctica is responsible for global weather? How about being the source of ocean currents responsible for maintaining ocean temperatures within a degree of average at all times?

Hovering at a consistent minus 110 degrees Fahrenheit during the total darkness of six month winters (43 degrees Fahrenheit colder on average than the Arctic) Unprotected by land masses, pummeled by constant 100 mph winds courtesy the “polar jet” ( a product of warm tropical air colliding with cooler south pole air masses – a conflict producing massive storms up to 4000 miles across). Polar winds, fed by earth’s rotation produce upper atmosphere winds of 200 mph. At the same time, churning water around Antarctica all the way to the ocean floor.

This is where it gets interesting. At 29 degrees Fahrenheit water begins to freeze, accounting for Antarctica more than doubling in size during “winter”.  As sea water freezes, salt separates becoming dense, heavy “brine”. Billions of briny gallons slowly fall to the sea bed – an unseen ocean waterfall, flowing away from Antarctica and over the continental shelf, coming to rest several miles below.  Thanks to raging “Polar jet” circulation, brine barely has time to catch its breath before the “screaming 60s” (below 60 degrees latitude, the roughest seas in the world), send it packing for warmer waters.

Urged by relentless circular motion, dense brine begins to move. Finding warmer water towards the Equator,  it starts to rise, taking along rich nutrients and minerals from the ocean floor. Flows of deep sea brine follow prevailing winds – in a nutshell, regulating ocean temperature, providing nutrients for plankton blooms and acting as the global barometer keeping weather in check. Joining other ocean currents, rising, falling, becoming diluted on the way up – the coldest, densest water known to man regulates average ocean temperature within a degree.

Ponder this irrefutable fact – without Antarctica and the polar jet, we have absolutely no way of regulating weather. Everything we take for granted – seasons, tropical monsoons, snow pack maintaining glaciers – without exception, the result of ocean circulation patterns. Antarctica protects the world from wild swings in temperature, end of story.

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/kits/currents/06conveyor2.html

My simplified  explanation of the process can’t begin to convey the importance of polar ice. Antarctica in particular plays a role vital enough to be called crucial to our way of life. We need to stop dickering over who or what is to blame and start grasping it won’t matter once the ice is gone.

A link to the state of Arctic ice….

http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/