A new study finds that melting Arctic permafrost from man-made global warming is releasing large amounts of methane into the atmosphere – and the resulting feedback loop is “certain to trigger additional warming.” The study led by University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada) biology Professor Merritt Turetsky examined 71 wetlands around the globe and discovered that wetlands in northern latitudes are releasing much more methane gas than previously thought.

permafrost, melting, global warming, climate change, fens, wetlands, methane

“Even if we ceased all human emissions, permafrost would continue to thaw and release carbon into the atmosphere,” Turetsky said. “Instead of reducing emissions, we currently are on track with the most dire scenario considered by the IPCC. There is no way to capture emissions from thawing permafrost as this carbon is released from soils across large regions of land in very remote spaces.” Methane is around 35 times more potent as a global warming-causing greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 100 year period and 84 times more potent than CO2 over a 20 year span.

Related: Melting Permafrost is Transforming the Landscape and Way of Life in Alaska

Besides melting permafrost causing an expansion of wetlands, other sources of increased methane emissions include gas flaring and leakages from hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and cow belching from industrial cattle farming.

The paper, titled “A synthesis of methane emissions from 71 northern, temperate, and subtropical wetlands,” was published in the journal Global Change Biology.

+ A synthesis of methane emissions from 71 northern, temperate, and subtropical wetlands

Via Climate Central

Images via Shutterstock