Permafrost lands across Siberia and Alaska that contain vast stores of carbon are beginning to thaw, bringing with it the threat of a big increase in global warming by 2100, a U.N. report said on Tuesday.
A thaw of the vast areas of permanently frozen ground in Russia, Canada,China and the United States also threatens local homes, roads, railways and oil pipelines, the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) said in the report which was released at the U.N. climate talks being held this week and next in Qatar.
“Permafrost has begun to thaw,” Kevin Schaefer, lead author at the University of Colorado told a news conference in Doha.
An accelerating melt would free vast amounts of carbon dioxide and methane which has been trapped in organic matter in the subsoil, often for thousands of years, the report said.
Warming permafrost could release the equivalent of between 43 and 135 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, by 2100. That would be up to 39 percent of annual emissions from human sources.
Permafrost now contains 1,700 billion tonnes of carbon, or twice the amount now in the atmosphere, it said.
Read more: Reuters >>
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