A team of researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks have made a startling discovery in the Canadian Arctic where they say things are melting decades earlier than they should be.
The team used a plane to observe exceptionally remote areas of Northern Canada and found that permafrost was melting and even growing new vegetarian up to 70 years earlier than predicted.
“What we saw was amazing,” Vladimir E. Romanovsky, a professor of geophysics at the university, told Reuters by telephone. “It’s an indication that the climate is now warmer than at any time in the last 5,000 or more years.” [...]
Diving through a lucky break in the clouds, Romanovsky and his colleagues said they were confronted with a landscape that was unrecognizable from the pristine Arctic terrain they had encountered during initial visits a decade or so earlier.
The vista had dissolved into an undulating sea of hummocks - waist-high depressions and ponds known as thermokarst. Vegetation, once sparse, had begun to flourish in the shelter provided from the constant wind.
Here's what thawing permafrost looks like via Reuters:
I don't enjoy being alarmist in the morning, but it's possible that most climate change models are actually too conservative and most of the changes we expect to see by the end of this century will actually happen much sooner.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence to support so there is a natural tendency to build scientific models that are conservative in nature. Scientists are well aware that making a prediction that doesn't come true is the first thing conservative politicians will point toward to say that climate change, among other things, is a hoax.
Politically speaking, it's better to underestimate than overestimate the threat. And that's a shame.