Methane from the Arctic: smaller leaks?

This is what emerged from a study conducted in northern Sweden where, as elsewhere in the Arctic regions, large areas of land that have been frozen throughout the year – what we call permafrost – are attacked by abnormally high temperatures. The researchers estimate the methane “leak” at about 10% of what was expected.

in order to their studiesSwedish, Danish and French researchers, however, confined themselves to a strip of land thawed in the 1980s, and secondarily thawed 10 to 15 years later. Emissions from the first were less than those from the second because, meanwhile, the ice had time to melt below the surface, the surface waters also had time to infiltrate the land. Suddenly the soil made it easier for plants to grow, which helped retain some of the methane gas. It’s from that first strip of unfrozen earth What comes appreciation like whatOnce the soil has had time to adapt to the change, emissions will be 10 times lower than expected.

It must be remembered that such frozen soil traps a lot of organic matter. All organic matter contains carbon. When soil thaws, it provides microbes with a huge reservoir, and these microbes release large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), two powerful greenhouse gases.

Beyond this general picture, little is known about the speed at which this cycle occurs and the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted per square kilometer. So the authors of the new research offer a piece of the puzzle. While agreeing that the overall picture will be more complex than the first two “pictures” reveal: among other things, too much rain will damage soil drainage and thus plant growth. But the numbers are encouraging so far.

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