Permafrost Melt: $43 Trillion Cost of Gas Release
As carbon dioxide and methane are released from melting Arctic permafrost in coming decades, University of Cambridge and University of Colorado say that the resulting economic damage from increased greenhouse gas emissions could add up to at least $43 trillion by the end of the next (22nd) century--on top of previous estimates. These scientists modeled that economic impact in a recent letter in the journal Nature Climate Change.
While the Arctic currently warms at twice the global average, these scientists say that if the rate of emissions continues to increase at current rates, permafrost thawing and gas release will occur on a widespread basis, according to a release.
Part of that global change will likely include Greenland's and the West Arctic's ice sheets melting, more flooding and more extreme weather. If the predicted $43 trillion economic cost is added onto existing predictions for climate change cost by the year 2200, the sum is $369 trillion, which is an increase of 13 percent over the prior estimate of $326 trillion, said the release.
"These results show just how much we need urgent action to slow the melting of the permafrost in order to minimize the scale of the release of greenhouse gases," said co-author Dr. Chris Hope, from the Cambridge Judge Business School, in the release.
In their research, Hope and Kevin Schaefer of the University of Colorado's National Snow and Ice Data Center employed the PAGE09 (Policy Analysis of the Greenhouse Effect) assessment model, putting together permafrost thawing cost estimates with the existing calculations on greenhouse gas emissions organized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the release said.
The team asserts that if nations take an aggressive strategy to lower emissions from permafrost thaw, they could reduce the problem by up to $37 trillion, according to the statement.
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