Another consequence of climate change: melting permafrost and the spread of disease

The Guardian reports that: Record-high temperatures melted Arctic permafrost and released deadly anthrax spores from a thawing carcass of a caribou that had been infected 75 years ago and had stayed frozen in limbo until now. This all suggests that it may not be easy to predict which populations will be most vulnerable to the health impacts of climate change.

598183-17011-1

This diagram is a vicious circle or positive feedback loop. These are  often characterised by exponential rates of change. This means that things speed up as time goes by and things get much worse much more quickly than people expect.

It is usually so cold in the tundra that the ground is perennially frozen in deep layers that can date back 3m years. But the usual circumstances no longer apply at the top of the world. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe. In fact, the area of the anthrax outbreak was 18F (10C) hotter than average, with temperatures reaching 95F (35C). In addition to releasing ancient microbes, melting layers of permafrost also release methane, a greenhouse gas 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide, that in turn causes further warming.

See Permafrost In a Warming World

This simple diagram explains the process.

598183-17011-1

This diagram is a vicious circle or positive feedback loop. These are  often characterised by exponential rates of change. This means that things speed up as time goes by and things get much worse much more quickly than people expect.

 

 

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