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Melting permafrost could double amount of greenhouse gas

For the past decade, much of the focus in the Arctic has centered on the rate at which ice melts and its ecological impact. Now, as Arctic ice continues to melt, carbon that has been stored in the frozen tundra for thousands of years is creeping up to the surface and exposed to a new element: sunlight. In a new study, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, reveal that this newly exposed carbon could double the amount of greenhouse gases in the environment-- and profoundly change the trajectory of the climate change debate. This “baked” carbon is more palatable to bacteria than carbon that has not been exposed to sunlight, such that the bacteria convert 40 percent more of it into carbon dioxide gas.

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