Thawing Permafrost Could Accelerate Global Warming, Calculations Finds

National Center for Atmospheric Research supercomputer calculation foresees thawing of as much as the top 11 feet of Arctic region permafrost, which is likely to release 'considerable' amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas 20-times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Published: 01-Jan-2006

Climate change could thaw as much as the top 11 feet of permafrost in most areas of the Northern Hemisphere by 2100, altering ecosystems across Alaska, Canada and Russia, according to a supercomputer calculation published this month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

"If that much near-surface permafrost thaws, it could release considerable amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and that could amplify global warming," said lead author David Lawrence, a project scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

"We could be underestimating the rate of global temperature increase.

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