Arctic 'Carbon Bomb' Topic of WHRC Community Lecture

The Woods Hole Research Center will host a community lecture, “Detecting the Lit Fuse of the Arctic Carbon Bomb,” on Wednesday, May 7, at 5:30 PM, featuring WHRC associate scientist, Robert Spencer, and science and conservation photographer, Chris Linder. In their talk, they will discuss their research trip to the Siberian Arctic where warming temperatures threaten to release ancient carbon contained in thawing permafrost.


Permafrost soils in the Arctic contain vast quantities of ancient organic carbon. When thawed, the decomposition of this organic carbon releases the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere, fueling a self-reinforcing cycle between permafrost thaw and global warming. The term “carbon bomb” has been used to describe this process in both the popular press and scientific journals. The lecture will provide an overview of recent research carried out by WHRC in this area and the scientists’ insights into how climate warming impacts carbon cycling.

Dr. Spencer is a biogeochemist whose research examines how humans are impacting the global carbon cycle, especially at the land-ocean interface. He studies how streams and rivers provide a window into the mobilization of ancient organic carbon in the Arctic.

Mr. Linder is a research associate at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and senior fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers. He has documented more than 40 expeditions from Antarctica to the Congo.

The lecture will take place in WHRC’s Harbourton Auditorium, 149 Woods Hole Road, Falmouth. There is no charge and the public is invited to attend. Parking and seating are limited, however, and reservations are recommended. To make reservations, e-mail or call 508-444-1517.


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