Scientists Identify Arctic Ice Melt As Major Source Of Methane Leaks

This video is two years old. Scientists have been talking about this for years, but they've now identified the ice melt as a major source of methane. Of course, we're going to err on the side of caution - "caution," in this case, meaning we'll

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This video is two years old. Scientists have been talking about this for years, but they've now identified the ice melt as a major source of methane.

Of course, we're going to err on the side of caution - "caution," in this case, meaning we'll be reluctant to connect any dots until it's too late to change anything. Really, I'd like nothing better than to think this isn't going to make matters much worse, but to do that, I'd have to ignore the massive amount of money the fossil fuel industry has put into buying its very own scientists:

Scientists have identified thousands of sites in the Arctic where methane that has been stored for many millennia is bubbling into the atmosphere.

The methane has been trapped by ice, but is able to escape as the ice melts.

Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, the researchers say this ancient gas could have a significant impact on climate change.

Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas after CO2 and levels are rising after a few years of stability.

There are many sources of the gas around the world, some natural and some man-made, such as landfill waste disposal sites and farm animals.

Tracking methane to these various sources is not easy.

But the researchers on the new Arctic project, led by Katey Walter Anthony from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks (UAF), were able to identify long-stored gas by the ratio of different isotopes of carbon in the methane molecules.

Using aerial and ground-based surveys, the team identified about 150,000 methane seeps in Alaska and Greenland in lakes along the margins of ice cover.

Local sampling showed that some of these are releasing the ancient methane, perhaps from natural gas or coal deposits underneath the lakes, whereas others are emitting much younger gas, presumably formed through decay of plant material in the lakes.

"We observed most of these cryosphere-cap seeps in lakes along the boundaries of permafrost thaw and in moraines and fjords of retreating glaciers," they write, emphasising the point that warming in the Arctic is releasing this long-stored carbon.

"If this relationship holds true for other regions where sedimentary basins are at present capped by permafrost, glaciers and ice sheets, such as northern West Siberia, rich in natural gas and partially underlain by thin permafrost predicted to degrade substantially by 2100, a very strong increase in methane carbon cycling will result, with potential implications for climate warming feedbacks."

[...] How serious and how immediate a threat this feedback mechanism presents is a controversial area, with some scientists believing that the impacts will not be seen for many decades, and others pointing out the possibility of a rapid release that could swiftly accelerate global warming.

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