Sunlight, Not Microbes, Control Carbon Release in the Arctic

August 22, 2014 5:08 PM

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A vast amount of carbon stored in Arctic permafrost is being converted into carbon dioxide (CO2) once it enters freshwater systems - a process that is worrying experts tracking climate change. This process was long thought to be enabled by microbial activity, but a new study identifies that sunlight itself might be the true culprit.

Traditional permafrost is frozen water trapped in soil in a region that never warms enough to the point that the ground will thaw. However, in the wake of a changing climate, parts of the Arctic are suddenly experiencing heightened temperatures, melting permafrost and loosening frozen ground.

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