UN: Melting permafrost a new peril in global warming

By REUTERS
November 27, 2012 15:39

 
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DOHA - 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 UN 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 UN Environment Program (UNEP) said in the report which was released at the UN 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.

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