Climate Change Research Site

Climate Change Research Site

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Credit: MARTIN SHIELDS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Climate change research site, Alaska. Carbon dioxide release from thawing permafrost is measured along with tundra growth. At a site in Healy, Alaska, near Denali National Park, a long term research project studies the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by permafrost that is thawing due to global climate change. The project, led by Dr. Ted Schuur of University of Florida, has found that in the short term CO2 released from decomposing, melting permafrost leads to increased growth of local tundra vegetation. But in the longer term the thawing leads to increased atmospheric loading of CO2. One factor studied is the percentage composition of old isotopes of carbon that are found in CO2 that has been trapped in permafrost for hundreds or thousands of years. The wooden planks are for researchers to walk on without disturbing the site.

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