Story LINK IN BIO! Repost from @natgeo Photo by @katieorlinsky | I've been photographing in the Arctic for close to six years, trying to tell stories that put a human face on climate change. For nearly two of those years I've been working on “The Carbon Threat” for @natgeo , online today. The article, written by @craigwelch , tackles the urgent subject of permafrost thaw.
It has been one of the most challenging stories I have ever photographed, a journey that fluctuated from frustrating and
disturbing to fascinating and inspiring at a moment's notice. What is happening to our planet is not easy to swallow, but we must confront it head-on. I hope our article can help the public and policymakers recognize this new, groundbreaking reality and take action.
Arctic permafrost is thawing much faster than expected, releasing carbon gases that could drastically speed up climate
change. Scientists say permafrost thaw may release nearly three times more greenhouse gases than expected. That means we’ll have to curb our own fossil fuel use even faster than lawmakers think. In this image, flammable methane, a potent greenhouse gas, bubbles from the thawing permafrost beneath a frozen lake. When you punch a hole through the ice, the gas escapes and can be measured—or set on fire— as a scientist demonstrates here.
Permafrost refers to the layer of continuously frozen soil that covers almost 1/4th of the Earth’s surface, found mostly in the Arctic. Most permafrost areas have been frozen for more than 10,000 years. And trapped inside permafrost are thousands of years of organic matter that decomposes as the ground thaws. That thawing ground slumps, allowing water to pool into millions of new ponds and lakes. These lakes—created this way or by beavers invading the far north—then chew through more permafrost. But they also allow all that organic matter to escape as methane, which is 25 times (or more) as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2. #climatechange #arcticforever #polar #alaska #russia #onassignment #storytelling