How Much Will Methane From Thawing Permafrost Speed Up Global Warming?
August 6, 2017
Methane "seeps" on the tundra may be more problematic than previously thought, according to a new report co-authored by Torsten Sachs, a researcher at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Germany
Methane gas trapped under the Arctic tundra has been called the ticking time bomb of climate change. Due to its high propensity to trap heat in the atmosphere, methane's global warming potential over a 20 year period is 86 times that of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas at the heart of most climate change discussion and analysis. So how concerned should we be about all the methane contained in the far north's permafrost?
Because the Arctic is heating up at twice the rate of the rest of the globe, parts of the Arctic tundra are thawing. This may be allowing long buried pockets of methane to be released into the atmosphere, new research suggests. A study published in the journal Scientific Reports has concluded that, "Strong geologic methane emissions from discontinuous terrestrial permafrost in the Mackenzie Delta, Canada suggests that these methane seeps on the Tundra may be more problematic than previously thought."
Torsten Sachs is a researcher at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam, Germany, studying the exchange of carbon dioxide and methane between various ecosystems and the atmosphere using stationary instrumentation on the ground as well as low-flying aircraft.