The Pingo Problem

Pingos are small Arctic and Sub-Arctic hills – sometimes above-ground, sometimes submerged. Some pingos are formed when warming water thaws layers of permafrost, allowing mounds of methane hydrate to emerge from the hard ground below. Remember, methane is a virulent greenhouse gas. Pingos are appearing with increasing frequency, and that’s not good. When pingos pop, they release methane, which heats up the atmosphere, which warms the oceans and thaws the permafrost, which spurs the formation of more pingos, leading to more methane release… From a comment at

Mankind’s emissions will be the fuse, rapidly melting permafrost will be the detonator, and melting ocean methane hydate will be the bomb. … Unfortunately, mankind’s emissions are a much stronger trigger than past severe runaway global warming episodes, so the chain reaction will happen sooner, faster, and therefore will be much, much more severe.

Suddenly I’m thinking of pingos like some kind of skin rash on the face of the earth, or as the geological equivalent of buboes, pre-saging worsening health.

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