Young-earth climatologists are petrified of permafrost. I call them young-earth climatologists because they never look at any event which occurred prior to the invention of the sacred thermometer about 300 years ago. According to the beliefs of the climatological sect, only a thermometer can discern the future. The past isn't important. Today, while reading one of the numerous journals I subscribe to, I rand into this statement.
"The rapid warming in the Arctic means that a global temperature rise of 3[sup]o[/sup] C, likely this century, could translate into a 10o C warming in the far north. Permafrost hundreds of metres deep will be at risk of thawing out."
"This is where things go global. The Arctic is not just a reflective mirror that is cracking up, It is also a massive store of carbon and methane, locked into the frozen soils and buried in icy structures beneath the ocean bed." Fred Pearce, "Meltdown," New Scientist, march 28, 2009, p. 34
The article goes on to say that they fear that much methane will be emitted into the atmosphere as the permafrost melts.
Well, lets see how reasonable all this is. Shmelev says
"The limit of permafrost distribution is now to about 64 degrees N. A zoning of permafrost is presented. North of 68 degrees N the presence of relict syngenetic ice veins is noted. " L. M. Shmelev Paleogeokriologicheskiye issledovaniya v Zapadno-Sibirskoy nizmennosti Paleogeocryologic investigation in the West Siberian lowland (in Nauchnoye soveshchaniye geografov Sibiri...Materialy no. 1) (1966) 23-26
At the height of the last glaciation, about 18,000 years ago, the permafrost was much much further south.
"The permafrost extent at the LGM reached about 45 degrees N latitude at sea level in the Northern Hemisphere. It is mostly absent in Southern Hemisphere, with the exception of Patagonia and the south island of New Zealand. The present extent of continuous and discontinuous permafrost respresents about 30% of the full glacial extent. " Brigitte M. J. van Vliet-Lanoe and Olga Lisitsyn Permafrost extent at the last glacial maximum and at the Holocene optimum; the CLIMEX map (in Permafrost response on economic development, environmental security and natural resources) NATO Science Series. Partnership Sub-series 2, Environmental Security (2001), 76 215-225
This is a picture of the extent of ice in the last ice age. In previous ice ages it was even further south.
While some people say that permafrost occupies 25% of the earth's surface (Anisimov and Nelson), that can't possibly be unless one includes Antarctica in that value. Below is a map of the present permafrost in the northern hemisphere. Permafrost is almost completely absent today in the southern hemisphere save for Antarctica.
I calculated the land area north of 64 degrees and came up with 4.9 million square miles. The earth contains 57.3 million square miles so this represents about 8 percent of the earth's surface. Even adding Antarctica one doesn't get to 25% of the earth's land covered by permafrost, one would get only 17% and note that my 4.9 million square miles counts some non-permafrost areas, like Norway. I am going to bold the next statement: One should note that the picture above only shows the earth from the North Pole down to 50 degrees latitude. One should realize that at the height of the last glaciation, every bit of land, and more was permafrost or glacier. Indeed, according to my calculations 31% of the world was permafrosted areas at that time. That is 18 million sq. miles of permafrost!
Remember today we only have 8 percent of the land as permafrost--not counting Antarctica, which doesn't so much as have permafrost as ice on top of rocks. So, we have already seen a melting of 13 million square miles but the hysteriacs are worried about a melting of another 5 million square miles, as if this 5 million is going to be the 5 million that kills us! What a crock.
So, why should we expect the melting of 5 million square miles of permafrost to kill us when the melting of the previous 13 million didn't? The only reason I can think of is to scare the citizenry into funding more research into the melting of the permafrost.
But wait. We have already had the permafrost melt. Of course the reader won't believe me but believe what is in the scientific literature
"In this study, the Holocene development of a peat plateau area in the east-European Russian Arctic is reconstructed based on detailed macrofossil, physico-chemical and radiocarbon analyses from two peat sequences. Basal dates from these two, c. 2 m long, peat profiles are c. 9420 BP and c. 9250 BP. From another six peat sequences gross-stratigraphic descriptions and additional radiocarbon dates are available. Basal dates from two short (<1 m) peat profiles indicate further peatland expansion at c. 3635 BP and c. 1285 BP. The oldest macrofossils of tree birch are dated to c. 9500 BP and those of conifers, presumably spruce, to c. 8000 BP. Tree stands became rare in the study area after c. 2800 BP, but occasionally occur until present. Peatlands formed through terrestrialization of ponds or paludification of forested uplands. Between 9000 and 3100 BP the peatlands were wet rich fens. Beginning from c. 3100 BP there are marked changes in their surface hydrology, connected with climatic cooling and permafrost aggradation. Sphagnum species started to play a dominant role. Permafrost aggradation at the six peat plateau sites is tentatively dated to c. 3100 BP, c. 2200 BP and <600 BP. Nowadays the area is mostly dry peat plateau with interspersed thermokarst lakes. Generally, peat accumulation rates are lower in the upper layers, which consist mostly of Sphagnum peat, than in the lower layers of sedge/brown moss peat. This is most probably due to ceased accumulation or even erosion in the currently widespread dry lichen stage in the peat plateau. Very high accumulation rates are recorded from moist sites with incipient permafrost. This study supports previous multi-proxy climate reconstructions in the area according to which temperatures were at least 2-3 degrees C higher during the mid-Holocene compared to present. " P. O. Oksanen, P. Kuhry, and R. N. Alekseeva Holocene development of the Rogovaya River peat plateau, European Russian Arctic The Holocene (2001), 11(1):25-40
Now, I want you to notice the temperature increase that Oksanen et al are speaking of. They say that in the Holocene Climate Optimum (oh around 8000-5000 BP) the temperature was 2 to 3 deg C higher than it is now. The young-earth climatologists, who do not tell you about anything which happened prior to the invention and dissemination of their sacred thermometer (about 300 years ago), certainly don't tell you about this. The Siberian Arctic was lots hotter within the time span of human history, at a time when there were no automobiles nor any coal plants.
Now, what do the global warming hysteriacs say will happen if the earth warms 2 degrees (as already happened 5000 years ago or so)? Well Anisimov and Nelson relate to us:
"Maps of permafrost distribution in the northern hemisphere were generated using three general circulation models and an empirical paleoreconstruction, all scaled to a 2 degrees C global warming, in conjunction with a permafrost model that has successfully replicated the arrangement of contemporary permafrost zones in several high-latitude regions. The simulations indicate a 25-44% reduction in the total area occupied by equilibrium permafrost." Oleg A. Anisimov and Frederick E. Nelson Permafrost distribution in the Northern Hemisphere under scenarios of climatic change," Global and Planetary Change (August 1996), 14(1-2):59-72
Ok, so we get as much as a 50% reduction of permafrost--that is about 2.5 million more square miles melted, 2.5 million square miles that probably melted previously 5000 years ago; 2.5 million square miles that didn't end civilization as we know it 5000 years ago.
We had 18 million square miles of permafrost but now 13 million of it has already melted and the climate fear-mongers are scared to death of melting another 2.5 million. Our fear is 5 times smaller than what has already happened. What a crock; what a sad commentary on geologic knowledge about earth history--and these guys think they are the ones who are intellectually superior to everyone else.
So, we have previously seen that 18 million sq miles were melted from the peak of the last ice age until the present. And the hysteriacs are worried about 2.5 million square miles disappearing over the next 100 years. That is a worry about only 13% of what has already melted. The hysteriacs simply don't understand math. Surely the permafrost which will melt if the world warms this century won't cause as much damage as it did when it melted the first time 5000 years ago. After all, it should have disgorged its methane content the first time it melted!
Of course climatologists can't be bothered to discuss anything that happened in the past. That isn't important because their mission to scare the hell out of us so that we will fund them is what is ultimately important. It is sad, but that is the way it is.
Other unquoted references
Oleg A. Anisimov and Frederick E. Nelson Permafrost distribution in the Northern Hemisphere under scenarios of climatic change Global and Planetary Change (August 1996), 14(1-2):59-72