Sept. 14, 2021

The latest IPCC report has warned that increasing global warming will result in reductions in Arctic permafrost and the thawing of the ground is expected to release greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide.


  • Permafrost is defined as ground (soil, rock and any included ice or organic material) that remains at or below zero degree Celsius for at least two consecutive years.

  • Permafrost is spread across an area of over 23 million square kilometers, covering about 15% of the land area of the globe.

Effects of permafrost melting due to increasing global temperatures

  • The first impacts that are very rapid will affect countries where roads or buildings were constructed on permafrost. The Russian railways are an example.

  • But the biggest international problem is to do with the potential for organic material, which is now entombed and frozen in the ground. If the ground begins to thaw, this material will become available for microbiota to break down.

  • In some environments, the biota will release carbon dioxide, and in others release methane which is about 25 to 30 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

  • The total quantity of carbon that is now buried in the permafrost is estimated at about 1500 billion tonnes and the top three meters of the ground has about 1000 billion tonnes.