The Narwhal discusses how coastal erosion on Yukon’s only Arctic island exposes looming climate threat. ‘The magnitude of change is enormous’: researchers track coastline of Herschel Island for a better understanding of how permafrost loss to seawater could contribute to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Along the coast and in nearshore waters, this production is happening at a faster rate than on land, researchers have found.
By 2100, carbon dioxide that’s likely to be produced from thawing permafrost across the circumpolar Arctic could contribute 0.3 degrees to global warming, Lantuit told The Narwhal. This estimate doesn’t even include the possible release of carbon dioxide from coastal erosion.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report doesn’t account for carbon dioxide released by permafrost in general, Lantuit added. That report, released in 2018, says that warming must not exceed 1.5 degrees in order to stem more extreme weather, rising sea levels and poverty. But there haven’t been adequate monitoring tools to gauge how permafrost erosion is contributing to this problem.