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February 23 2013

Major methane release is almost inevitable


We are on the cusp of a tipping point in the climate. If the global climate warms another few tenths of a degree, a large expanse of the Siberian permafrost will start to melt uncontrollably. The result: a significant amount of extra greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, and a threat ironically to the infrastructure that carries natural gas from Russia to Europe.

The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the planet, and climatologists have long warned that this will cause positive feedbacks that will speed up climate change further. The region is home to enormous stores of organic carbon, mostly in the form of permafrost soils and icy clathrates that trap methane a powerful greenhouse gas that could escape into the atmosphere.

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