Peatlands in the permafrost zone of Europe and Siberia are closer to a climate tipping point than previously thought, academics warn.
A recent study published in Nature Climate Change suggests that by 2040, the climate in northern Europe will no longer be strong enough to maintain the stability of permafrost peatlands.
However, strong mitigation measures may yet save the perennial permafrost in western and northern Siberia.
Using new climate models, researchers have projected future climate trends and changes in permafrost in Europe and Siberia.
The perennial permafrost in these regions stores 39 billion tons of carbon, which is twice the amount of carbon stored in the entire European forests.
Therefore, the thawing of permafrost will cause the organic matter in it to decompose, releasing large amounts of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, which in turn will accelerate global warming.
Current climate change response strategies are not sufficient to stop global warming, and research on peatlands needs to be further improved.