"Sudden change," he said out loud, his voice emphatic."What?""Made by humans,” he said. “It reminded me of sudden change. Abrupt change. That could be what kills all of us."He reached into his jacket pocket and took out a small map, smoothing it on the table. It was a polar view of the world."Take one fact: the temperatures at the top of the permafrost layer have gone up a lot since the 1980's in the Arctic - by up to 3 degrees Centigrade."He broke off, staring at the map, and she waited."It is the acceleration that really concerns us," he continued. "Things go faster and faster and pretty soon they can get out of control. Huge swathes of permafrost have been in the tundra of north America and Siberia for more than eight thousand years. There are one trillion tons of carbon in the earth’s permafrost and when it melts it releases methane, and methane is about 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. It’s potentially the big killer. Right now, we have several kilometers of frozen earth there, so the gases stay trapped."He fell silent for a long time.Kate leaned over and touched his hand.“A penny for your thoughts?”Nick started, gave a faint sigh and came back to the present."That catastrophe in waiting hidden in the permafrost really worries me, Kate. If it should ever warm up too much …" his voice trailed off."Let's just hope that doesn't happen," she said softly, touching his hand lightly.
Russia's vast permafrost areas may shrink by a third by the middle of the century due to global warming, endangering infrastructure in the Arctic zone, an emergencies ministry official said Friday.
"In the next 25 to 30 years, the area of permafrost in Russia may shrink by 10-18 percent," the head of the ministry's disaster monitoring department Andrei Bolov told the RIA Novosti news agency.
"By the middle of the century, it can shrink by 15-30 percent, and the boundary of the permafrost may shift to the north-east by 150-200 kilometres," he said.