How much carbon as potential methane is there in the Arctic?
The Arctic holds several times atmospheric carbon.
o The subarctic Boreal forest is the largest forest store of carbon, even more than the Amazon.
Boreal forest fires emit mainly CO2 but some CH4 is also emitted. In forested regions over permafrost the fire thaws surface permafrost and more methane is released.
Arctic methane sources
Latest research finds the Arctic is already a substantial source of methane to the atmosphere: as much as 50 million metric tons of methane is released per year. It is certain this will greatly increase with global warming.
A 2010 review of the Arctic carbon budget by D. McGuire et al finds that the Arctic contains several times the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Most is potentially methane. The review finds many Arctic changes that will result from global warming will increase the emission of Arctic methane.
Arctic methane sources: Isotopic evidence for atmospheric inputs 2011 by R. E.Fisher et al illustrated the significance of wetland emissions that may respond quickly and powerfully to sustained climate warming.
Svalbard Arctic readings have shown methane emissions in the Arctic are leading to increased methane concentration in the air.
21.06.10 Measurements taken in Svalbard confirm that the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continues to increase. Researchers are taking the increased methane concentration seriously. This is alarming if one of the reasons for it is the release of methane from thawing permafrost and the Arctic sea bed.
Current sources of Arctic methane emissions - feedback to global (Arctic) warming.
Leaking methane from the cryocap- edges of glaciers permafrost and new lakes in the ice were discovered by Katey Walter published in 2012.
Methane was found leaking through the sea ice published by E. Kort 2012 presently assumed to be from proliferating surface microorganisms beneath the ice.
Increased methane from warming subarctic peat wetlands.
Thermokarst lakes in thawing permafrost
Sea floor sediment frozen solid methane gas hydrate.
Methane is highly reactive as a chemical in the atmosphere, making it very difficult to pin down
changes and sources of emissions and their effect.
This is made worse by inadequate monitoring capacities.
Methane tends to get concentrated over the high latitides.
Most emissions are from the NH and Hydroxyl OH that
removes methane works best in the cold.
Though there is no agreement among experts, we know
that warming weltlands and thawing permafrost will release
more methane with more Arctic warming.
There is certainly evidence from several research approaches
that subarctic warming wetlands are releasing more methane.
Local permafrost research over many years has shown that
thawing permafrost is emitting methane.
Nick Breeze article on Arctic methane with interview videos
RUNAWAY Arctic methane amplifying feedback from
multiple large methane sources has for many years been
called the Arctic methane bomb. It is the main source
of amplifying feedbacks in the runaway climate change
scenario of global warming planetary catastrophe.
This is the most thorough published description.
The feedback loop can be described in simple
terms as follows: rising CH4 emissions from wetlands,
thawing permafrost, and destabilizing marine hydrates
increase atmospheric CH4 concentrations; this increase
in CH4 concentration, amplified by the effect of CH4
on its own chemical lifetime, results in a greater radiative
forcing on climate and terrestrial ecosystems.
The ecosystems, given our current understanding,
respond to the warmer, more humid conditions by
an increase in BVOCs, which further augments the
chemical lifetime of CH4. Finally, the resulting
additional radiative forcing could lead to more or
faster thawing of permafrost, further destabilization
of marine hydrates, and potentially even larger
wetland CH4 emissions. POSSIBLE ROLE OF WETLANDS,
In addition to the warming effect of current forcing and emissions, methane plays a role in climatic feedback mechanisms that can exacerbate warming and even lead to abrupt, catastrophic climate change in the future. This risk is primarily associated with the rapid release of carbon stores in the Arctic.
A major release of Arctic methane would have a devastating impact on the global climate, and evidence indicates it has played a role in past warming events in the paleoclimate record. J. Stolaroff et al Environ. Sci. Technol. July 2012.
Research has shown a syncronous increase in Arctic temperature, sea ice decline, Arctic methane.
It is normal for atmospheric concentrations of Arctic to be higher than other latitudes.The Northern hemisphere with its fossil fuel industry and heavy industrialization and wetland rice growing produces an unnatural amount of methane which gets concentrated in the Arctic. One reason of this is that atmospheric hydroxyl that breaks down methane works best in cold air.
From 2000 to 2007,the increase in atmospheric methane everywhere stalled. Since 2007 (the year of the big Arctic sea ice drop) atmospheric methane has been on a renewed sustained (2013) increase everywhere. NOAA has an interactive atmospheric GHG readout from ground stations worldwide.
The highest methane concentration is at Lac La Biche Alberta right on the southern edge of the vast Canadian wetlands. Methane there is 2000ppb with spikes up to 250ppb. The 800,000 year atmospheric methane maximum is 800ppb,
It has been found that this methane increase is mainly (if not totally) coming from the warming planet, as a feedback effect. The 2007 increase is assumed from subarctic wetland peat that responds rapidly to warming by producing more methane. It has also been determined to be coming from both hemispheres, so it must be coming from tropical as well as subarctic wetlands.
Satellites can monitor methane. The NASA AIRS satellite shows a dramatic increase in Arctic methane, but it does not pin point where the source is. Permafrost cannot be distinguished from wetland methane.
2015 AMAP assessment Methane as Arctic climate forcer