A vast expanse of western Sibera is undergoing an unprecedented thaw that could dramatically increase the rate of global warming, climate scientists warn today.
…an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres - the size of
The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world's largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.
It is a scenario climate scientists have feared since first identifying "tipping points" - delicate thresholds where a slight rise in the Earth's temperature can cause a dramatic change in the environment that itself triggers a far greater increase in global temperatures.
(Warming hits "tipping point", 11 August)
"This is an ecological landslide that is probably irreversible and is undoubtedly connected to climatic warming"
(Sergei Kirpotin, reported by Fred Pearce in Climate warning as Siberia melts, 13 August)