Sunlight May be Key to Carbon Dioxide Release from Arctic Permafrost

August 22, 2014 1:36 PM

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The permafrost in the Arctic locks away a vast reservoir of carbon. Yet this carbon is gradually converting to carbon dioxide after entering the freshwater system in a process thought to be largely controlled by microbial activity. Now, scientists have discovered that it's not bacteria triggering this process--but sunlight.

"Arctic permafrost contains about half of all the organic carbon trapped in soil on the entire Earth-and equals an amount twice of that in the atmosphere," said Byron Crump, co-author of the new study, in a news release. "This represents a major change in thinking about how the carbon cycle works in...

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