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Beavers are gnawing away at the Arctic permafrost, and that's bad for the planet

June 29, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

The beaver may be an unlikely agent of climate change, but the cuddly looking creatures are transforming the Arctic landscape in a way that could be exacerbating global warming, a new study has suggested.

In the past few years, scientists have spotted beavers in the Alaskan tundra where they've previously never been seen before — and the animals have been enjoying a dam-building boom in their new neighborhood, according to the study of high-resolution satellite imagery published in the journal Environmental Research Letters Monday.

Because the lakes the beavers create contain water that is warmer than the surrounding soil, the new bodies of water accelerate the permafrost thawing.

Lakes and water bodies influenced by beavers accounted for two-thirds of the 8. 3% increase in total surface water area in the Kotzebue study area during a 17-year period, the study found.

Nitze said the beaver dam-building boom was also likely taking place in the Canadian tundra, and could also be happening in Siberia.

"There are a lot of people trying to quantify methane and CO2 emissions from lakes in the Arctic but not specifically yet from beaver lakes," said Nitze.

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