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Beware the Melting Permafrost

What happens if and when Siberia’s permafrost melts away? Behold the release of methane: “The Russian scientist shuffles across the frozen lake, scuffing aside ankle-deep snow until he finds a cluster of bubbles trapped under the ice,” reports Arthur Max of the Associated Press. “With a cigarette lighter in one hand and a knife in the other, he lances the ice like a blister. Methane whooshes out and bursts into a thin blue flame.” Here’s how Katey Walter Anthony, a researcher at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, puts it: “If permafrost were to thaw suddenly, in a flash, it would put a tremendous amount of carbon in the atmosphere. We would feel temperatures warming across the globe. And that would be a big deal.” [%comments]