Thaw of frozen bogs, which take up as much as 80 per cent of the landmass of western Siberia, will release billions of tonnes of methane. Photo: Sergey Kirpotin

By Vera Salnitskaya
5 May 2015

(Siberian Times) – A leading Siberian scientist has delivered another stark warning about climate change and said melting peat bogs could speed up the process.

Professor Sergey Kirpotin, director of the BioClimLand Centre of Excellence for Climate Change Research in Tomsk, said he has concerns over the 'awful' consequences in Russia’s sub-Arctic region.

He said that a thaw of the frozen bogs, which take up as much as 80 per cent of the landmass of western Siberia, will release billions of tonnes of methane – a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide – into the atmosphere. That, he concluded, will greatly speed up the effects of global warming around the world with potentially devastating consequences.

“Bogs are extremely important for humanity,” explained Prof Kirpotin. “Over thousands of years bogs have been absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it at peat deposits. Carbon is a basic component of greenhouse gases. This way, bogs function as a sort of natural freezer as they don’t let the carbon build up in the atmosphere.

“However, the permafrost in northern areas of western Siberia has started melting. As the permafrost thaws, it creates new lakes and old ones get bigger. This way, all the organics trapped in permafrost started decomposing rather quickly. Obviously, a lot of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are released into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.”

He added: “There is a so-called methane threat in the north of the bog. On top of that, the ice shelf is also thawing releasing methane hydrates and something really awful is happening.” […]

He warned at the time that it could be an “ecological landslide that is probably irreversible”. Now it seems the situation is more advanced than first thought. He said: 'The Arctic regions are more subject to climate change. There are so-called hot spots in the Arctic and northern western Siberia is one of them. [more]

New warning about climate change linked to peat bogs

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