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Permafrost Melting And Its Potential Impact On Northern Canada

2300 words - 9 pages

Northern Canada, usually experiencing very low temperatures, are now receiving much warmer temperatures which has started to give rise to many issues. One of the main challenges facing Northern Canada due to the warmer weather is the melting of the Permafrost and the destruction that it is causing to both living and non-living organisms. The word ‘Permafrost’ refers to a ground that remains “at or below the freezing point for at least two consecutive years” (Bone, 52). In Canada, almost 76% of the land is occupied by the Arctic and Subarctic regions, which has a combination of continuous, discontinuous and sporadic permafrost (Bone, 52). Continuous permafrost is mostly seen in the Arctic and almost 80% of it remains frozen. On the other hand, discontinuous permafrost is mostly seen in the subarctic and approximately 30% to 80% of the ground is frozen and finally sporadic permafrost is seen in parts of Canada closer to the south and has less than 30% of the ground permanently frozen (Bone, 53). However, in the past few decades, geographers have noticed that the average temperature of the planet is rising faster than it normally used to, which is a direct consequence of global warming. The permafrost has started to degrade causing negative effects on greenhouse gas emissions, man-made structure, vegetation, wildlife, sea ice and the lifestyle of the Inuit people in the North.
Canada’s population makes up almost 5% of the world population, and astonishingly contribute approximately 2% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. This results in permafrost melting, which releases a large amount of greenhouse gases, including CO2 and methane. When energy from the sun reaches the Earth’s surface, it absorbs some energy, while releasing the rest back to outer space. However, not all of the released heat goes back to outer space. The molecules in the atmosphere commonly known as the greenhouses gases traps this released heat. This further heats up the atmosphere causing many destructions like the melting of the permafrost, which releases more greenhouse gases.
Furthermore, in the journal, Effects of Permafrost degradation on ecosystems, researchers have stated that the melting of permafrost can have a significant effect on the amount of CO2 and methane that is released to the atmosphere. This is because the “permanently frozen soil layer [in the north] contains billions of tonnes of plant and animal matter that has remained trapped there for up to tens of thousands of years. The thawing of the permafrost could allow that material to decompose and release its carbon back into the atmosphere” (Emily Chung). In addition, permafrost also contains large amount of Methane in it, which is also another greenhouse gas. The ice or the frozen ground in the arctic contains a large amount of methane because the methane that is rising from the inside of the Earth is trapped by the ice. This issue concerns the scientists because the melting of the permafrost can...

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