23 Sep 2008 05:09:13
Methane leaking into atmosphere
Creating a low carbon economy could be more important than ever following the revelation that as Arctic ice melts millions of tonnes of methane are being released into the atmosphere.
Methane is 20 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and there are estimated to be millions of tonnes in the seabed around the North Pole.
According to The Independent, scientists believe the release of methane from underground stores has lead to sudden changes in the climate in the past, which could have lead to extinction of species.
The findings of the methane emissions were made by scientists exploring Russia's northern coast.
They have told the paper that they have seen methane 'chimneys' where the permafrost below the sea has thawed, allowing trapped methane out.
Orjan Gustoffsson of Stockholm University told the newspaper: "The conventional thought has been that the permafrost 'lid' on the sub-sea sediments on the Siberian shelf should cap and hold the massive reservoirs of shallow methane deposits in place.
"The growing evidence for release of methane in this inaccessible region may suggest that the permafrost lid is starting to get perforated and thus leak methane."
Meanwhile, nations of the world are preparing for the next round of global negotiations on carbon emissions, the final deal which will be signed in Copenhagen in December of next year.