Climate change could be accelerated by any major thaw in Siberia’s permafrost, which covers 24%of the land surface of the northern hemisphere. Hundreds of gigatonnes of carbon dioxide and methane might possibly be triggered by the permafrost’s widespread melting.
This melting, however, would occur over several decades, indicating the greenhouse gas involved would be initially released on a much smaller scale.
Oxford University researchers led the study which focused on stalactites and stalagmites in Siberian caves that had taken shape over hundreds of thousands of years. Scientists can measure the growth and halting of stalactite and stalagmites by cutting through the structures at various points corresponding to given time periods in the Earth’s history.
Researcher Anton Vaks of the Earth sciences department at Oxford said that he expects to see continuous permafrost thaw along the boundaries of the threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius in the future.
Average temperatures globally are about 0.6 to 0.7 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Vak believes that climate modelers should account for permafrost melting in their models.