Unfortunately, both mammoth and most of the mammoth steppe ecosystem today have long but disappeared. But a group of geneticists from Harvard are hoping to change this by cloning living elephant cells that contain a small component of synthesised mammoth DNA. They claim that reintroducing such mammoth-like creatures to Arctic tundra environments could help stop the release of greenhouse gases from the ground and reduce future emissions as temperatures rise due to climate change. While this might sound like a far-fetched idea, scientists have actually been experimenting with something similar for over 20 years.
Arctic lands are covered by areas of ground known as permafrost that have been frozen since the Pleistocene. Permafrost contains vast amounts of carbon from dead plant life that is locked away by the extremely cold temperatures. The amount of carbon in these frozen stores is estimated to be about twice as much as that currently in the atmosphere. If it thaws out, microbes will break down soil organic material to release carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.