Research and Application News
Unexpected Future Boost of Methane Possible from Arctic Permafrost
17 August 2018
New NASA-funded research has discovered that Arctic permafrost's expected gradual thawing and the associated release of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere may actually be sped up by instances of a relatively little known process called abrupt thawing. Abrupt thawing takes place under a certain type of Arctic lake, known as a thermokarst lake that forms as permafrost thaws.
The impact on the climate may mean an influx of permafrost-derived methane into the atmosphere in the mid-21st century, which is not currently accounted for in climate projections.
Image credit: Katey Walter Anthony/ University of Alaska Fairbanks - Methane bubbles up from the thawed permafrost at the bottom of the thermokarst lake through the ice at its surface.