Permafrost is a land – including soil and rock – which does not go above freezing temperature (0oC) for at least two years [1]. Arctic hosts permafrost regions. As the global temperature rises, permafrost start to thaw. That unveils plants and animals that froze before being decomposed. This has several negative consequences. Perhaps the first one would be an increase in global sea level. Canada is blessed with abundant water resources and is surrounded by oceans. This is of particular risk for Canada. Frequent flooding events that are increasing from year to year should be partially attributed to this fact [2]. Another consequence of permafrost thaw is the disturbance of the ecosystem of that area which is home to many precious species. The photo below shows a hungry polar bear in Canada. This can be extended to many other animals as well. Other consequences include land erosion already observed in Manitoba, Alaska, and Siberia. 

Another recently found undesirable outcome of permafrost thaw is releasing methane to the atmosphere. Methane is hundreds of times more powerful in rising global temperature than carbon dioxide. Carbon is stock in frozen layers of soil for many years. As temperature rises, these frozen layers begin to thaw. This makes carbon available as food intake for microbes that live there. They produce methane in their normal life cycle [3]. This methane is then released into the atmosphere. A group of NASA researchers has detected around two thousand methane hotspots in northern permafrost. They learned that these hotspots are mostly very close to water bodies. This observation led them to understand that these hotspots are found wherever layers of frozen soil are melting and making rivers and ponds. Thaw of permafrost – which is caused by climate change in the first place – accelerates climate change by adding more and more methane to the atmosphere. The extent of this added methane into the atmosphere is yet to be discovered; however, this observation indicates how undesirable climate change outcomes boost climate change in a vicious cycle.

References

[1] https://ipa.arcticportal.org/publications/occasional-publications/what-is-permafrost

[2] https://eos.org/editor-highlights/permafrost-thaws-rapidly-as-arctic-river-flooding-increases

[3] https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2954/nasa-flights-detect-millions-of-arctic-methane-hotspots/