Overlooked feedback loop: As fossil fools frac Alberta to dried up hell, drought causes soils to crack, releasing more CO2 and other greenhouse gases, escalating climate chaos.

Frac’ing forces methane and other gases to release from formations they are naturally tightly adsorbed to. Gases not captured by man-made leaky casings (or those deformed by hundreds of frac quakes) migrate though soils to surface where they pollute and can kill vegetation as happened on my property after Encana/Ovintiv illegally frac’d the aquifers that supply my water well, contaminating it with dangerous levels of methane (and ethane and man-made chemicals used in frac’ing).

This is one of the dead zones that appeared about 20 metres south of my water well after Encana’s illegal fracs:

Dead zone on Ernst property, after Encana/Ovintiv’s illegal aquifer fracs.

Not even the most persistent weeds grow in these dead zones and no insect can be found on them.

How much methane and ethane is venting to surface via my frac’d water well because of Encana’s cruel greed and law violations, and Alberta political and regulator corruption?

This Overlooked Feedback Loop Is Accelerating Climate Change by Tufts University, March 16, 2024, SciTechDaily

Scientists at Tufts University state that soil, which contains 80 percent of the Earth’s carbon, emits more greenhouse gases as droughts cause soils to crack due to drying.

The precision of climate models is influenced by numerous elements, including greenhouse gas emissions stemming from industrial operations and transportation, emissions from farm animals, the expansion of urban areas and the reduction of forests, as well as the reflection of solar rays off snow and other ground surfaces. Additionally, natural occurrences such as volcanic eruptions play a role and are factored into these models.

However, some other natural processes have been overlooked. Farshid Vahedifard, professor and Louis Berger Chair in civil and environmental engineering, points to an important one that lies directly beneath our feet and covers most of our planet above water.

In a study published in Environmental Research Letters, Vahedifard notes that soil stores 80 percent of carbon on Earth, and with increasing cycles and severity of droughts in several regions, that crucial reservoir is cracking and breaking down, releasing even more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

In fact, it may be creating an amplified feedback loop that could accelerate climate change well beyond current predictions.

Additional Feedback Loops and Climate Change

There are also other amplifying feedback loops that may not have been fully accounted for in climate change models, he said. These include melting of sea ice and exposure of darker ocean surfaces that absorb more heat from the sun.

The increase of wildfires due to warm, dry conditions releases a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which in turn creates hotter, drier weather more conducive to fires.

Another amplified feedback loop is the thawing of Arctic and sub-Arctic permafrost, which also releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and raises climate temperature, leading to more melted permafrost.

But soil changes caused by drought could be as significant, if not more significant, than any of those factors. Drought, manifested by long periods of low soil moisture content and high temperature, leads to cracking in fine-grained soils, sometimes extending meters below the surface. The cracks result in more exposure to the air, increased microbial activity and breakdown of organic matter, released carbon dioxide, and loss of nutrients and ability to support plant growth, reducing carbon dioxide sequestering.

The deep cracks expose much older reserves of carbon that had previously been stable and protected. The permeation of air into the soil accelerates the release of not only carbon dioxide from organic matter but also other greenhouse gases like nitrous oxide.

Small animals like earthworms and millipedes that help turn the soil over are also affected by the reduced moisture and increased air exposure, being less able to play active roles in nutrient cycling and soil structure maintenance. That, in turn, increases the likelihood of soil cracking and aeration.

“The amplifying effect of soil carbon feedback loops and its interactions with other loops could carry us across tipping points and lead to even more severe and permanent shifts in climate,” said Vahedifard.

He noted that government agencies and policymakers need to promote sustainable land use, “which can include adoption of precision irrigation techniques and water conservation practicesLike criminalizing fra’cing and water injection for enhanced oil recovery – most of the water is lost permanently to the hydrogeological cycle, and thus lost permanently to reuse, and use of drought tolerant crops,” he said. “Organic fertilizers and compost can enhance soil organic matter content and improve soil water-holding capacity. Of course, this can only help if it’s part of a comprehensive effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all human activity.”

Reference: “Amplifying feedback loop between drought, soil desiccation cracking, and greenhouse gas emissions” by Farshid Vahedifard, C Clay Goodman, Varun Paul and Amir AghaKouchak, 5 March 2024, Environmental Research Letters.
DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/ad2c23

The study was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Refer also to:

Human pollution (and over breeding) is taking the breath of trees away: “Trees in warmer, drier climates are essentially coughing instead of breathing,” sending CO2 right back into the atmosphere so they no longer serve as solution to our carbon pollution while earth continues heating and humans continue making more carbon pollution. Stupidest species on earth.

Alberta, The Wild Wild West of Stupid: Under extreme drought and climate chaos diminishing supplies, frac’ers plan to truck water province-wide

Follow Alberta’s vanishing water, frac by frac, coal mine by coal mine, UCP/AER/Danielle Smith lie by lie.

2012: AEA: Support to the identification of potential risks for the environment and human health arising from hydrocarbons operations involving hydraulic fracturing in Europe

A proportion (25% to 100%) of the water used in hydraulic fracturing is not recovered, and consequently this water is lost permanently to re-use, which differs from some other water uses in which water can be recovered and processed for re-use.

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