In the Arctic, a changing climate isn’t something that might happen in the near future. In the uppermost stretches of the Northern Hemisphere, it’s already happening now. Temperatures are warming; sea ice is retreating. And a new study says permafrost is melting so fast in the Arctic that it’s not only ripping up the landscape, but it’s also wrecking scientific equipment and making climate change even worse for all of us.As permafrost — ground that is frozen year-round — melts, it releases carbon and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Current modeling for this is based on an expectation that permafost thaws slowly, thus carbon would be released into the atmosphere at a certain rate. But this new study published last week in the journal Nature says since some Arctic permafrost is melting much more quickly, higher amounts of greenhouse gases and carbon could be released as well. That would warm the planet up more quickly. Scientists at this point just don’t know what all the consequences of such permafrost-induced carbon release could be, though in the study researchers estimate it could produce twice as much gas than what current models are predicting. Rapid permafrost melt isn’t just releasing more greenhouse gases into air: It’s changing the landscape, too, since permafrost affects about a quarter of the land in the Northern Hemisphere. The group of scientists who conducted the study talked of research sites in Alaska, now covered with lakes, that a year ago were a forest. And they also saw rivers filled with sediment that once flowed clear. All of these abrupt changes to the land made it more difficult for them to conduct research, since the scientific equipment they depend on was sometimes literally swallowed up by the land.
Climate change jumps to biggest risk for insurers Wyoming Public Media | Maggie Mullen
According to a new report, climate change is now the number one concern for North American insurers. Max Rudolph, fellow of the Society of Actuaries and author of the report, said this is the 12th year the group published an analysis. “Climate change took the biggest jump this year of I believe any risk that I can remember, seeing it jump from 7 percent up to 22 percent,” he said. Rudolph added that it’s becoming harder for risk managers to avoid thinking about climate change. He pointed to major hurricanes in 2017 and the longer, more intense wildfire seasons we’re seeing in the west. “My personal opinion is that this is a case of the risk managers catching up to the actual risk that is out there,” he explained. Rudolph said it’s a good time for business owners to start adapting to the changing environment, by questions like, “How does this building code going to be impacted by potential flooding or potential wildfires?” Cybersecurity and financial volatility ranked second and third behind climate change for largest current risks.