Scientists warn thawing Siberia may trigger global meltdown

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Russian researchers warn that Western Siberia has begun to thaw as a result of global warming. The frozen peat bogs in this region may hold billions of tons of methane gas, which may be released into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas 22 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

Sergei Kirpotin, of Tomsk State University warned New Scientist that the event is an "ecological landslide that is probably irreversible and is undoubtedly connected to climatic warming".

David Viner, of the University of East Anglia told The Guardian: "When you start messing around with these natural systems, you can end up in situations where it's unstoppable". He also warns that this event was not considered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In May, scientists from the University of Alaska found methane "hotspots" in eastern Siberia where the gas bubbles out from thawing permafrost bogs at a rate that prevents the surface from freezing.

The permafrost has been intact for 11,000 years and started melting 3 to 4 years ago, according to Kirpotin.

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