"FRISCO, Colo. -- Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey say they’ve quantified the amount of greenhouse gases that could be released into the atmosphere as Arctic permafrost starts to melt."
"'This study quantifies the impact on Earth’s two most important chemical cycles, carbon and nitrogen, from thawing of permafrost under future climate warming scenarios,' said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. 'While the permafrost of the polar latitudes may seem distant and disconnected from the daily activities of most of us, its potential to alter the planet’s habitability when destabilized is very real.'
As much as 44 billion tons of nitrogen and 850 billion tons of carbon could be released into the environment as the region begins to thaw over the next century. This nitrogen and carbon are likely to impact ecosystems, the atmosphere, and water resources including rivers and lakes. For context, this is roughly the amount of carbon stored in the atmosphere today."