Carbon-rich organic matter is just like spaghetti bolognese: a tangle of carbon chains that's vulnerable to being eaten. In order to keep your spag bol safe, special conditions are required (tupperware, fridge), and it's just the same for organic matter in the ground.
Why does this matter? As the climate warms, so does the very ground beneath our feet. And where that ground is frozen (large parts of Canada, Alaska and Siberia) warming can lead to thawing, allowing carbon-rich soil to come out of the freezer and be attacked by hungry microbes. As microbes consume organic matter in the soil, they produce greenhouse gases, which have the potential to further warm the climate more, leading to a possible positive feedback effect.
In this episode, the first of a 5-part series on carbon in the ground, we explore how carbon gets into the ground in the first place, and what conditions enable it to stay there, locked away--or not, as the case may be.
Listen in for canine and culinary analogies as our guests serve up bitesized facts with lashings of context.
Our wonderful guests on this episode were Professor Chris Burn, Dr Loeka Jongejans and Dr Jeppe Kristensen. We'll be hearing more from them in other episodes in this mini-series.
Your Polar Pod team is Sam Cornish, Roberta Wilkinson and Jihad Zgheib.