Melting methane thawed frozen planet
- ABC posted 29 May 2008
The rapid release of methane into the earth's atmosphere 635 million years ago caused runaway global warming, and may happen again in the near future, a new study reports.
The study, which appears in this week's edition of Nature, provides an insight into what may happen to the earth's atmosphere if today's frozen methane deposits in Canada, Siberia and Alaska begin to thaw.
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The thawing of clathrates frozen in the Arctic polar region could release billions of tonnes of methane into the atmosphere.
The concern is that it could take a relative small rise in temperature to start unleashing the gas, which would then trigger an unstoppable warming cycle.
If the end of snowball earth is a guide, positive feedbacks, "once initiated, change the climate to a wholly different state," he says.
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