How Sunlight And Microbes In Permafrost Add Carbon To Atmosphere

permafrost 10 8Rose Cory stands in a stream of meltwater in the Arctic to collect a sample and analyze the chemistry of the stream water. Soil organic matter gives the stream its golden brown color. In the water, sun can reach carbon from the soil, weakening it and allowing microbes to break it down and release it into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. (Credit: Rose Cory/U. Michigan)

Microbes in permafrost that eat sun-weakened carbon and convert it into carbon dioxide may be providing a major pathway for the greenhouse gas to enter the atmosphere, new research suggests.

Researchers had known that sunlight beaming down on permanently frozen soil, or permafrost, in the Arctic breaks down carbon in that permafrost and releases the greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, but they didn’t know how the process was occurring.

Previously, Collin Ward, a recent doctoral student at University of Michigan and first author of the study, showed microbial communities in the deep permafrost can rapidly adapt to consume sun-weakened carbon. Permafrost soil, typically buried underground, can be exposed to sunlight once thawed and flushed to a stream where sunlight exposure weakens the carbon within that permafrost, converting it into carbon that those microbial communities like to consume.

The new study shows that sunlight makes permafrost soil a feast for microbes because it gives them the same kinds of carbon they already like to eat—the carbon they are adapted to metabolize.

As more of the permafrost thaws—the Arctic is warming at a rate two times faster than the rest of the world—it has the capacity to release an incredible amount of carbon as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. If all of the carbon held in permafrost was converted into carbon dioxide, it would more than double the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Very few models that predict climate scenarios for the future include these carbon emissions from permafrost, says Rose Cory, an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences.

“It’s the difference between eating at a buffet with a ton of choices and some not very good options versus being at a buffet where every dish is your favorite,” she says. “Sunlight turns some permafrost soil carbon into microbe ‘favorites,’ which helps them convert more of this carbon into carbon dioxide.”

permafrost2 10 8A stream of meltwater runs through snow in the Arctic. Soil organic matter gives the stream its golden brown color. (Credit: Jason Dobkowski/U. Michigan)

Permafrost in the Arctic can’t be decomposed by microbes until it warms and thaws. Once it does, native microbial communities start decomposing this soil carbon, slowly eating it and, in the process, turning it into carbon dioxide.

Not all decomposition of soil carbon happens in the soil though. Snow and rain during the summer flush out soil carbon into sunlit streams and lakes, where the sun weakens the soil carbon. Previous research showed that microbes were much better able to convert sun-weakened carbon into carbon dioxide, but they didn’t know why.

To determine how sunlight was aiding the production of carbon dioxide, Cory and her team subjected soil samples to ultra-high-resolution mass spectrometry before and after being exposed to sunlight, and before and after feeding that organic matter to the native bacterial community. They saw that the bacterial communities were causing more carbon dioxide to release in the permafrost soil samples that had been exposed to sunlight.

They checked their results against another method: examining microbial community composition and gene expression by the microbes. The researchers saw that after sunlight exposure, microbes retooled their metabolic machinery to consume sun-weakened carbon.

Figuring out how sunlight contributes to the release of carbon dioxide from Earth into the atmosphere gives researchers one more piece of information about how to determine the rate and amount of carbon dioxide released by permafrost.

“It’s arguably the largest feedback method to cause more warming on Earth,” Cory says. “We’re in a race to figure out how much this permafrost is going to be converted into carbon dioxide.”

The researchers report their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Source: University of Michigan

Related Books:

List Price: $18.99
Sale Price: $18.99 $16.83 You save: $2.16
Product Description: The most important book yet from the author of the international bestseller The Shock Doctrine, a brilliant explanation of why the climate crisis challenges us to abandon the core “free market” ideology of our time, restructure the global economy, and remake our political systems.

In short, either we embrace radical change ourselves or radical changes will be visited upon our physical world. The status quo is no longer an option.

In This Changes Everything Naomi Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein meticulously builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance to simultaneously reduce gaping inequalities, re-imagine our broken democracies, and rebuild our gutted local economies. She exposes the ideological desperation of the climate-change deniers, the messianic delusions of the would-be geoengineers, and the tragic defeatism of too many mainstream green initiatives. And she demonstrates precisely why the market has not—and cannot—fix the climate crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by rampant disaster capitalism.

Klein argues that the changes to our relationship with nature and one another that are required to respond to the climate crisis humanely should not be viewed as grim penance, but rather as a kind of gift—a catalyst to transform broken economic and cultural priorities and to heal long-festering historical wounds. And she documents the inspiring movements that have already begun this process: communities that are not just refusing to be sites of further fossil fuel extraction but are building the next, regeneration-based economies right now.

Can we pull off these changes in time? Nothing is certain. Nothing except that climate change changes everything. And for a very brief time, the nature of that change is still up to us.



List Price: $14.99
Sale Price: $14.99 $12.74 You save: $2.25
Product Description:

My name is Jaquelle, and I'm a teenager.

I like football movies, sushi, and dark chocolate. But the biggest, most crucial, most significant thing about me is that my life’s task is to follow Jesus. He is the One who changed my life.

That’s what this book is about.

It’s for teenagers eager to reject the status quo and low standards our culture sets for us. It’s for those of us who don’t want to spend the adolescent years slacking off, but rather standing out and digging deep into what Jesus says about following him. This book will help you see how the truth about God changes everything―our relationships, our time, our sin, our habits, and more―freeing us to live joyful, obedient, and Christ-exalting lives, even while we’re young.





Price: $14.90
Product Description:

This Changes Everything: Lessons from James - Member Book is an 8 session study for young adults by Ben Stuart that unpacks the book of James. The world desperately needs Christians whose actions match their convictions. A young generation is rising up, and they need to see the power of the gospel working its way out into our everyday lives. Enter James, the half-brother of Jesus. Be warned, everything is on the table. James will call us to evaluate the way we deal with hardship, handle money, use our words, and plan our futures. But if we will let him in, James's letter has the potential for our outside to match our inside, our activity to match our God-given identity.

Join author Ben Stuart as he unfolds the teachings of James, who went from skeptic to believer. Just as James came face-to-face with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he wants the same for you―whether you're wondering what being a Christian is all about or you've been following Christ for years. What James knew then still holds true today. When we encounter Jesus, He will change everything. (8 sessions)

Author:
Ben Stuart is the executive director for Breakaway Ministries, a non-denominational, weekly Bible study on the campus of Texas A&M University. He grew up in Houston, Texas, and graduated from Texas A&M University in 1998. Ben has a degree in Historical Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Donna, and their daughter. Ben’s passion in life is knowing God and making Him known.




 

English Afrikaans Arabic Chinese (Simplified) Chinese (Traditional) Dutch Filipino French German Hindi Indonesian Italian Japanese Korean Malay Persian Portuguese Russian Spanish Swahili Swedish Thai Turkish Urdu Vietnamese

LATEST VIDEOS

Jay Inslee Tells Hayes That He Wants To Gut The Filibuster To Fight Climate Change
by MSNBC
Washington Governor Jay Inslee is running for president on the single issue of climate change and argues that doing…
Causes and Effects of Climate Change
by National Geographic
What causes climate change (also known as global warming)? And what are the effects of climate change? Learn the human…
Extreme Weather and Global Warming
by NASA Goddard
Is the frequency of extreme weather events a sign that global warming is gaining pace and exceeding predictions? Bill…
Thanks to Climate Change, Wet Winters No Match for Drier California Summers
by KPIX CBS SF Bay Area
If the emerald-green hills around Northern California have you thinking recent rains have put a damper on the fire…
Climate Change Is Not One Issue
by MSNBC
"Climate change is not one issue," said David Wallace-Wells, author of "The Uninhabitable Earth," but is…
The Heat: Climate change
by CGTN America
Images gathered by NASA show an increase in foliage in China and India. The greening effect is mainly due to ambitious…
No company is doing enough to combat climate change: Jeremy Grantham
by CNBC Television
Jeremy Grantham, co-founder of GMO, on climate change and what needs to be done to combat it.
Power Plants Are POISONING Groundwater All Over America
by The Ring of Fire
According to a new report, 90% of coal-fired power plants across the country have completely contaminated the…

LATEST ARTICLES

Default Image
Come on, UK weather forecasters – tell it like it is on climate change
by Adam Corner
They have a national reach that most climate campaigners would die for. They are familiar and respected experts on the…
Green New Deal: 6 places already reducing emissions from buildings
Green New Deal: 6 places already reducing emissions from buildings
by David Roberts
One of the elements of the Green New Deal resolution that has caused the most consternation among critics on the right…
Default Image
UK environmentalists target Barclays in fossil fuels campaign
by Matthew Taylor
A UK-wide campaign is being launched to persuade one of the country’s biggest high street banks to stop investing…
Oceanic carbon uptake could falter
Oceanic carbon uptake could falter
by Tim Radford
What does oceanic carbon uptake achieve? Greenhouse gas that sinks below the waves slows global warming a little and…
Britain (Yes, Rainy Britain) Could Run Short of Water by 2050, Official Says
Britain (Yes, Rainy Britain) Could Run Short of Water by 2050, Official Says
by Global Warming & Climate Change
“Climate change plus growth equals an existential threat,” Mr. Bevan said. To avoid severe water shortages, he added,…
Default Image
Record high US temperatures outpace record lows two to one, study finds
by Associated Press
Over the past 20 years, Americans have been twice as likely to sweat through record-breaking heat rather than shiver…
Climate change: Water shortages in England 'within 25 years'
Climate change: Water shortages in England 'within 25 years'
by BBC News - Science & Environment
Image copyright PA Image caption Low water levels at Wayoh Reservoir near Bolton in the UK heatwave in July 2018 Within…
Default Image
Why you'll never meet a white supremacist who cares about climate change
by Rebecca Solnit
As the news of the Christchurch mosque massacre broke and I scoured the news, I came across a map showing that the…