Melting sea ice-associated methane emissions come with a price tag of 60 trillion dollars, equalling to the size of the world economy in the year 2010, a new study claims.
According to the study carried out by researchers from Cambridge and Rotterdam found an 'economic time-bomb' in the Arctic, following a ground-breaking analysis of the likely cost of methane emissions in the region.
The researchers have argued that that a significant release of methane from thawing permafrost in the Arctic could have dire implications for the world's economy as they have calculated for the first time the potential economic impact of a scenario in which methane from the East Siberian Sea will be emitted as a result of the thaw.
The ground-breaking Comment piece was co-authored by Gail Whiteman, from Erasmus University; Chris Hope, Reader in Policy Modelling at Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge; and Peter Wadhams, Professor of Ocean physics at the University of Cambridge.
Gail Whiteman, who is Professor of sustainability, management and climate change at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) said that the global impact of a warming Arctic is an economic time-bomb.
Co-author of the study Peter Wadhams said that the imminent disappearance of the summer sea ice in the Arctic will have enormous implications for both the acceleration of climate change, and the release of methane from off-shore waters which are now able to warm up in the summer and this massive methane boost will have major implications for global economies and societies.
Chris Hope, co-author of the study, said that the methane release would bring forward the date at which the global mean temperature rise exceeds 2 degrees Celsius by between 15 and 35 years and added that in the absence of climate-change mitigation measures it would increase mean global climate impacts by 60 trillion dollars.
If other impacts such as ocean acidification are factored in, the cost would be much higher. Some 80% of these costs will be borne by developing countries, as they experience more extreme weather, flooding, droughts and poorer health, as Arctic warming affects climate.
The researches have said that global economic institutions and world leaders should kick-start investment in rigorous economic modeling and consider the impacts of a changing Arctic landscape as far outweighing any 'short-term gains from shipping and extraction'.
According to Whiteman Global leaders and the WEF and IMF need to pay much more attention to this invisible time-bomb. The mean impact of just this one effect of 60 trillion dollars approaches the 70 trillion dollars value of the world economy in 2012.