Saturday, December 1, 2012

Melting Ice Could Push Climate To Breaking Point

Last night on Current TV both Jennifer Granholm and Cenk Uygur spent time discussing climate change and the melting of the permafrost. Carrie Mihalcik of Current TV gives background information on what this means for the planet:

By Carrie Mihalcik / / @CDMihalcik

Call it the revolving door of climate change.

Warming temperatures are melting permafrost in the Northern Hemisphere, which, in turn, will release massive amounts of methane and carbon into the atmosphere, which will then significantly amplify global warming.  

The United Nations Environment Programme released a new report about the danger of "permafrost carbon feedback" during the U.N. convention of climate change in Doha, Qatar. UNEP reports that as Arctic and alpine temperatures increase, organic material stored in the frozen ground will begin to thaw and decay, releasing carbon and methane into the atmosphere. The report estimates that permafrost in the Northern Hemisphere contains 1,700 gigatonnes of carbon — twice the amount that is currently in the atmosphere.

"Permafrost is one of the keys to the planet's future because it contains large stores of frozen organic matter that if thawed and released into the atmosphere would amplify current global warming and propel us to a warmer world," said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

The report calls for new monitoring and analysis of permafrost feedback by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change because current climate models don’t account for gases released from melting permafrost. This oversight could put long-standing global negotiations on emission limits at risk.

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