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Thursday, November 29, 2012

UN: Methane released from melting ice could push climate past tipping point...


United Nations
United Nations (Photo credit: Ashitakka)

Doha conference is warned that climate models do not yet ground in Siberia. Permafrost covers nearly a quarter of the northern hemisphere. Photograph: Francis Latreille/Corbis
The United Nations sounded a stark warning on the threat to the climate from methane in the thawing permafrost as governments met for the second day of climate change negotiations in Doha, Qatar.
Thawing permafrost releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, but this has not yet been included in models of the future climate. Permafrost covers nearly a quarter of the northern hemisphere at present and is estimated to contain 1,700 gigatonnes of carbon – twice the amount currently in the atmosphere. As it thaws, it could push global warming past one of the key "tipping points" that scientists believe could lead to runaway climate change.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) called for the effect to be studied in detail by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the body of top climate scientists convened by the UN to provide governments with the most up-to-date and comprehensive knowledge on climate change. The next IPCC report will be published in several parts from next year.

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