Temperature Increase due to the Permafrost Carbon Feedback

Thursday, 17 December 2015: 11:35
2004 (Moscone West)
Elchin E Jafarov, National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, CO, United States and Kevin M Schaefer, University of Colorado, National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, CO, United States
The Permafrost Carbon Feedback (PCF) is the amplification of anthropogenic warming due to carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) emissions from thawing permafrost. It is estimated that permafrost-affected soils store two times more of the organic carbon that is currently available in the atmosphere. Thawing of near surface permafrost will lead to irreversible changes for environment including its feedback on the global temperatures. Previous studies of the PCF indicate emissions from thawing permafrost will start sometime in the middle of this century with a total of 120 ± 85 Gt of carbon by 2100, resulting in a global temperature increase of 0.29 ± 0.21 °C. The northern high latitudes will remain relatively cold and wet with slow permafrost degradation and even slower organic matter decay, resulting in a PCF that will persist for centuries. Few studies included projections beyond 2100, but those that did indicate 50% to 60% of the emissions will occur after. What will be the impact of the PCF on global climate beyond 2100? How much warming from the PCF have we already committed to, even if we reach the 2 °C warming target above pre-industrial levels by 2100?