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Global warming: Report says permafrost carbon emissions must be included in global climate models and planning

A new report urges more monitoring of the Earth’s permafrost zones. Image courtesy NSIDC.

More monitoring of permafrost changes needed

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — With temperatures in polar regions rising twice as fast as the global average, there’s a good chance that between 30 to 85 percent of near-surface permafrost could melt, releasing billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere by the end of the century.

But most existing climate models don’t accurately account for the impact of permafrost carbon dioxide and methane emissions, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Program. The report recommends that the IPCC compile a special assessment report on permafrost. It also recommends that nations with extensive permafrost create national monitoring networks and make plans to mitigate the risks of thawing permafrost. These nations include Russia, Canada, China, and the United States.

“The infrastructure we have now is not adequate to monitor future changes in permafrost,” said lead author Kevin Schaefer, a research scientist at the Boulder-based National Snow and Ice Data Center. “We need to greatly expand our current networks to monitor permafrost, which requires direct investment of money and resources by individual countries,” Schaefer said, urging the IPCC to assess the impact of permafrost carbon dioxide and methane emissions in the negotiation of emissions targets and global climate change policy discussions. Continue reading

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Mountain news roundup: Is the Matterhorn falling apart?

Swiss researchers are studying melting permafrost that has resulted in more frequent rockfalls on the famed Matterhorn. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ZERMATT TOURIST OFFICE.

Telluride announces Bluegrass lineup, Aspen locals debate pass prices and Scottish skiers set a record for kilt (not kite) skiing …

Swiss debate avalanche penalties
We start our weekly mountain news roundup with a trio of stories from PlanetSki, a Euro-based web site reporting with excellent reporting from the Alps. A PlanetSki correspondent based in Zermatt reported that Swiss authorities  are considering pressing charges against off-piste skiers who triggered avalanches that subsequently ran across marked ski trails. According to the story, Swiss law already includes provisions for prosecuting skiers in those situations.

Two recent avalanche incidents prompted renewed discussion about the measures in the Swiss media. The first was at Anzere, near Crans Montana, where a party of three off-piste skiers triggered a slide that hit two other skiers on a marked trail. They were unhurt. Most recently, a group of snowboarders in Zermatt triggered a slide that ran from outside the ski area boundary back on to a marked trail. In both cases, the off-piste skiers have been questioned by police.

Kilted at Cairgorn
PlanetSki is also reporting that a group of 235 kilt-wearing skiers at Scotland’s Cairngorn resort set a new record for the largest number kilted skiers and snowboarders to gather together for a run. Check out the post, which includes some great pictures and video. The gathering was to help celebrate the best conditions Scotland ski areas have seen in quite some time, and to raise money for charity and school ski program.

Read the rest of our roundup after the break. Continue reading

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