Every few days, it seems, another factor is discovered to further accelerate Climate Destabilization. Today we learned that increasing CO2 makes ice crack faster.
... CO2 molecules may be having a more direct impact on the ice that covers our planet. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute for Technology have shown that the material strength and fracture toughness of ice are decreased significantly under increasing concentrations of CO2 molecules, making ice caps and glaciers more vulnerable to cracking and splitting into pieces,...
Ice caps and glaciers cover seven per cent of Earth -- more than Europe and North America combined -- and are responsible for reflecting 80-90 per cent of the Sun's light rays that enter our atmosphere and maintain Earth's temperature. They are also a natural carbon sink, capturing a large amount of CO2.
"If ice caps and glaciers were to continue to crack and break into pieces, their surface area that is exposed to air would be significantly increased, which could lead to accelerated melting and much reduced coverage area on the Earth.
... CO2molecules first adhere to the crack boundary of ice by forming a bond with the hydrogen atoms and then migrate through the ice in a flipping motion along the crack boundary towards the crack tip.
The CO2 molecules accumulate at the crack tip and constantly attack the water molecules by trying to bond to them. This leaves broken bonds behind and increases the brittleness of the ice on a macroscopic scale. [emphasis mine]
Another positive feedback we'd missed: we overestimated the potential of soil to store carbon.
It seems that any extra CO2 absorbed by plants due to higher CO2 levels isn't stored as wood. Instead it ends up being consumed by soil microbes who send the resulting CO2 right back into the air.
Research published in Science today found that increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere cause soil microbes to produce more carbon dioxide, accelerating climate change.
Two Northern Arizona University researchers led the study, which challenges previous understanding about how carbon accumulates in soil. Increased levels of CO2 accelerate plant growth, which causes more absorption of CO2 through photosynthesis.
Until now, the accepted belief was that carbon is then stored in wood and soil for a long time, slowing climate change. Yet this new research suggests that the extra carbon provides fuel to microorganisms in the soil whose byproducts (such as CO2) are released into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.
"Our findings mean that nature is not as efficient in slowing global warming as we previously thought," said Kees Jan van Groenigen, research fellow at the Center for Ecosystem Science and Society at NAU and lead author of the study. "By overlooking this effect of increased CO2 on soil microbes, models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change may have overestimated the potential of soil to store carbon and mitigate the greenhouse effect."
Rising global temperatures could increase the amount of carbon dioxide naturally released by the world's oceans, fuelling further climate change, a study suggests. Fresh insight into how the oceans can affect CO2 levels in the atmosphere shows that rising temperatures can indirectly increase the amount of the greenhouse gas emitted by the oceans.
... a lack of iron at the ocean surface can limit the effect of other key elements in helping plankton take up carbon. This effect is magnified in the southern ocean and equatorial Pacific and coastal areas, which are known to play a crucial role in influencing levels of CO2 in the global atmosphere.
... we were surprised by the many ways in which iron affects the CO2 given off by the oceans. If warming climates lower iron levels at the sea surface, as occurred in the past, this is bad news for the environment." [emphasis mine]
Warming climate can lower iron in ocean surface water, which limits the effect of other key nutrients too, impairing phytoplankton uptake of CO2.