Paris climate targets could be exceeded sooner than expected–due to changes in permafrost

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis  Read ScienceDaily article here

A new study has for the first time comprehensively accounted for permafrost carbon release when estimating emission budgets for climate targets. The results show that the world might be closer to exceeding the budget for the long-term target of the Paris climate agreement than previously thought.

….The upper layer of permafrost (the active layer) periodically thaws in the summer, but in recent years, the active layer of permafrost has gradually been expanding due to increasing temperatures. This means that more permafrost is thawing and thus releasing the previously trapped carbon into the atmosphere.

….This is the first time that such a tipping process is adequately accounted for in emission budgets, and according to the researchers, doing so shows that the world is closer to exceeding the budget for the long-term target of the Paris Agreement than previously thought.

T. Gasser, M. Kechiar, P. Ciais, E. J. Burke, T. Kleinen, D. Zhu, Y. Huang, A. Ekici, M. Obersteiner. Path-dependent reductions in CO2 emission budgets caused by permafrost carbon release. Nature Geoscience, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41561-018-0227-0