AGW: The High Arctic Becomes Forested

If the Arct warms up, the former tundras will become colonized by trees. what would the effect of formerly barren ground becoming forests be? I imagine all those trees would serve as carbon sinks, and the trememdous growth of forests would increase the absorption of solar energy. has anyone carried out calculations on this? The late Arctic explorer (Vilhajmir Steffansson) speculated about the possibility of farming the high arctic- would this be feasible?

Kind of hard for trees to grow on water.

Who would pay for the reforestation, anyway? Sure, the trees would eventually spread into any available, appropriate land mass, but that would take a long time. For it to happen on any reasonable timescale, *we *would have to do it.

We could use the money we saved on not doing anything about global warming.

Think Christmas trees. There’s a vast untapped market in the middle east waiting for inexpensive Christmas trees.

According to some studies, some colder areas are better off without trees, anyway:

I visited the Mendenhall Glacier a couple of years ago, and you can see the terraforming process at work there, because there are large stretches of land that have been exposed as the glacier has receded, and very good records of how long each area has been exposed. The newest areas are barren, but after 20 to 50 years, poplar forests grow up. After that pines begin to invade, and eventually take over. I don’t know, but I speculate that in 100 years more or so, there might be enough topsoil restored so the forests could be cleared and farmed, assuming other environmental factors were suitable.

In some areas, like Siberia, glaciers haven’t scraped away the topsoil, so they could potentially become farmland more quickly. It wouldn’t be enough to support the current global population, but maybe enough to ensure humans survive as a species. The downside is that a lot of methane is trapped in the frost, and its release will accelerate global warming.

One of the things many contrarians and people that do think the warming will be beneficial is that it can be in certain places, but the big problem will be getting to a new stable state, that is why many do talk about a bottleneck coming up, before one can think of the new forests and cropland that could be open one has to know how far the change will go.

The problem is that we are dealing with a moving target, unless one wants to do what even environmentalists are not saying (quitting cold turkey and really affecting the economy) there is still no effective limit as to how high the levels of greenhouse gases we will dump in the atmosphere.

What this means is that we are not sure then how far the change (it is now too late to avoid some changes) will go in many northern latitudes, what scientists are doing better is to predict some regional effects that the warming is causing, because winter will always come the cold that is at the poles will interact with the warming in counter intuitive ways but not really at odds with the main AGW theories.

In a nutshell, currently one can expect harsh winters in areas of the northern hemisphere, but eventually the warming (the arctic amplification) will change even that, the timing of this does depend on what we do, and if we do continue as usual then problems like what trees will be get will not seen as important as things like the relocation of massive amounts of people that will be one of the things that one doesn’t need to be a genius to deduce that we are going to get.

Isn’t one of the big concerns that the Arctic tundra has a shit-ton of methane and other greenhouse gasses frozen under the ground there? As it warms, those gasses will be released into the atmosphere, making things (of course) worse.

All the residents of Alaska and Canada will be able to move out of igloos and into wood houses.

I should imagine that the polar bears will become rather annoyed, and begin dropping out of trees onto unsuspecting people.

I think it’s less that the methane is frozen there, and more that once the stuff starts to thaw, it will decompose in a way that releases those two gasses. Methane is a pretty common result for anaerobic decomposition, and permafrost won’t be aerated well.