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Climate Change: Economic Impact of Arctic Warming and Thawing of Permafrost

April 24, 2019 3:06 PM |

Arctic warming and impact on global economy

Nature Communications, a paper revealed a combination of factors that has the potential to increase the long-term economic impact of climate change by just under $70 trillion, under the reduction levels that are consistent with current national pledges to cut carbon emission. This is five percent of the estimated total cost of climate change for this scenario.

Talking about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Paris Agreement, target of global temperature rise is being limited to 1.5°C from pre-industrial levels, the extra impact drops to $25 trillion. This is four percent of the total cost for this scenario. Looks like the primary driver behind the additional costs is the emitted permafrost carbon.

The research team hopes that their assessments would provide a better understanding of the socio-economic risks from climate change under different scenarios. This would help guide the policy-makers towards making judicious decisions on emissions reduction targets.

Dmitry Yumashev of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business at Lancaster University mentioned that Arctic sea ice and land snow currently contribute around a third each to the global albedo feedback.

One of the biggest tipping points in Climate Change is that as the permafrost thaws, the methane and CO2 it releases will trigger more global warming, thus triggering more of thawing. The impacts aren't only constrained to the Arctic. The additional warming will also fuel sea level rise, extreme weather, drought, wildfires and more.

For tens of thousands of years, grasses, other plants and dead animals have become frozen in the Arctic ground, building a carbon storeroom in the permafrost that's waiting to be unleashed as that ground thaws.

Yumashev also mentioned that, the clear message is that the lower emissions scenarios are the safest option, based on the cost estimates presented above.

Image Credit: Carbon Brief

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