By Nina Chestney LONDON, July 24 (Reuters) - A release of methane in the Arctic could speed the melting of sea ice and climate change with a cost to the global economy of up to $60 trillion over coming decades, according to a paper published in the journal Nature.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge and Erasmus University in the Netherlands used economic modelling to calculate the consequences of a release of a 50-gigatonne reservoir of methane from thawing permafrost under the East Siberian Sea.
They examined a scenario in which there is a release of methane over a decade as global temperatures rise at their current pace.
They also looked at lower and slower releases, yet all produced "steep" economic costs stemming from physical changes to the Arctic.
"The global impact of a warming Arctic is an economic time-bomb," said Gail Whiteman, an author of the report and professor of sustainability, management and climate change at the Rotterdam School of Management, part of Erasmus University.
"In the absence of climate-change mitigation measures, the model calculates that it would increase mean global climate impacts by $60 trillion," said Chris Hope, a reader in policy modelling at the Cambridge Judge Business School, part of the University of Cambridge.
That approaches the value of the global economy, which was around $70 trillion last year............