A melting permafrost peat bog stretching across an area the size of France and Germany could unleash billions of tons of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, Russian scientists have warned.So, the basic idea is that this thing's got a whole lot of methane in it, stored away for the last 11,000 years. Only now, Siberia's warmed enough for the permafrost to melt. Potentially releasing 70 billion tons of methane, according to the article.
Methane looks like it's around 70x as effective a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide, according to this article.
According to this D.O.E. article, total CO2 emissions for 2003 were around 6 billion tons. Hmm. 70 billion tons of methane, and each ton is 70 times as effective as CO2... (give or take -- methane breaks down faster than CO2).
It's kind of surprising how little coverage this story got in the U.S. news, at least if you look at the Google News hits.