As Alaska warms, methane emissions appear stable, study finds

As Alaska warms, methane emissions appear stable, study finds
Aerial photo of the NOAA Barrow Atmospheric Baseline Observatory from Spring, 2009. Credit: Mike Worley/BLM.

Analysis of nearly three decades of air samples from Alaska's North Slope shows little change in long-term methane emissions despite significant Arctic warming over that time period, according to new research published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

Scientists estimate that Arctic permafrost, a thick layer of frozen soil that encircles the globe, contains two and a half times as much carbon as has been emitted since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. As the region warms, this carbon will be released from the permafrost's icy grip.

Scientists need to know where that carbon will go and what form it will take. This has become more critical since the Arctic is warming faster than other regions of Earth, with corresponding losses in sea ice coverage. Some models suggest that a portion of that carbon will be released as , a potent greenhouse gas that has almost 28 times the warming influence of over a 100-year timescale.

In the new study, researchers from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder, NOAA, NASA and other university partners examined 29 years of continuous, precision measurements of atmospheric methane and other gases from the NOAA Barrow Atmospheric Baseline Observatory, which is part of NOAA's Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network.

"There has been a huge increase in Arctic warming, and while we do see spikes in methane due to short-term temperature changes, we're not seeing a long-term change in methane levels," said Colm Sweeney, a CIRES scientist working at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder and lead author of the new study.

But that doesn't mean thawing permafrost isn't releasing carbon, Sweeney said. "It's happening. It just isn't showing up as methane."

Arctic permafrost contains an estimated 1,000 gigatons (1,000 billion tons) of carbon. Besides being emitted as methane, carbon stored in thawing permafrost could be released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, carried off by meltwater into river systems, or taken up by vegetation as plant communities expand their range.

The team supplemented the continuous measurements from the Barrow observatory with measurements made by a five-year, NASA-led airborne campaign known as CARVE (Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment), which helped them nail down methane's seasonal and long-term trends in the region. They saw an uptick in methane levels in late fall and winter, but no long-term signal across Alaska's North Slope.

"Bacteria that produce methane and bacteria that consume methane will both become more active as temperatures get warmer," said Steven Wofsy of Harvard University and co-author of the study. "Our study suggests that over the past 30 years, these processes have balanced out in the study area."

The researchers conclude that observed short-term methane spikes from the Arctic will likely have little impact on global levels in the long-term.

This finding is critical to science's understanding of how the Arctic is responding to the unprecedented disruption of its climate and the degradation of permafrost. The lack of significant long-term trends indicates that processes regulating North Slope need more study.

With little observed change in methane emissions, researchers are further examining the Barrow observatory's dataset for signs that the permafrost has been emitting carbon dioxide, by far the most significant of the greenhouse gasses, as it may be more affected by large temperature changes (and by extension, melting permafrost) in the Arctic. The Barrow dataset features in an upcoming paper on Arctic dioxide levels co-authored by Sweeney. Several other research efforts are also examining this hypothesis.


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Carbon dioxide biggest player in thawing permafrost

More information: Colm Sweeney et al, No significant increase in long-term CHemissions on North Slope of Alaska despite significant increase in air temperature, Geophysical Research Letters (2016). DOI: 10.1002/2016GL069292
Journal information: Geophysical Research Letters

Citation: As Alaska warms, methane emissions appear stable, study finds (2016, June 22) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-06-alaska-methane-emissions-stable.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
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Jun 22, 2016
Oops. Another nail in the CO2 filled coffin of AGW Cult lies.

Jun 22, 2016
Warmists are barking mad and howling at the moon.

Jun 23, 2016
The areas with permafrost are often peat bogs, which are a carbon sink because they grow layers upon layers of biomass that cover the previous layers, eventually sedimenting them into what will become oil and coal seams over geological timescales.

Re-wetting and thawing these areas act like any other peat bog. They do release methane, but that happens mostly in the new growth layers and not so much with the older sunken layers. The whole reason the peat keeps growing thicker is because the bacterial action that produces the methane also makes the soil acidic from the waste products, and that limits the action of the bacteria to the point that they basically preserve the plant matter like it was pickled. Earlier cultures even used bogs to preserve food for the exact same reason.

CH4 might be a powerful GHG but it breaks down fast with sunlight, so the balance of carbon going in over methane going out can actually be a negative feedback on the whole greenhouse effect.

Jun 23, 2016
Direct observations are BS. We must listen to what the models and predictions of climate scientists say.

Jun 23, 2016


CH4 might be a powerful GHG but it breaks down fast with sunlight, so the balance of carbon going in over methane going out can actually be a negative feedback on the whole greenhouse effect.


Highly unlikely, especially as the permafrost is still outputting carbon and at significant amounts. As they say in this article, they need to quantify that amount but it is happening. Melting permafrost will remain a positive feedback for warming. But if the methane output is less than anticipated then it means we may avoid the 'methane bomb' scenario. And that is good news. It gives us a few more years to clean up our mess.

Jun 23, 2016
Highly unlikely, especially as the permafrost is still outputting carbon and at significant amounts.

LOL. Oh, the "intelligence" of the Chicken Little retard. So, the AGW Cult "science" concluded that there must be increasing methane emissions and guess what, reality proves otherwise, but let's just feed the Chicken Littles need for doom and gloom with an even bigger lie.

Jun 23, 2016
LOL, my man @anti-AL-Goreacle still having such a tough time wrapping his head around man made global warming. Well there are still a very small group of people that believe the Earth is flat and all pictures the 'blue marble' are faked. Some even think science is a scam, and that scientist just make stuff up to do evil. For this article, I'm kind of surprised and skeptical they haven't found a bigger release. Methane in the atmosphere is certainly climbing fast from AGW and it would be good to know where it's coming from. What if it's coming from Fracking wells for example. Because Methane is such a HUGE greenhouse gas, it could really speed up all of the models predicting a dreadful AGW heat death to planet earth.

Jun 23, 2016
LOL, my man @anti-AL-Goreacle still having such a tough time wrapping his head around man made global warming.

Well, what can I say, unlike you not all of us have the "luxury" of having our heads wrapped around by their man-crush Al's rectum and so experience the glob.AL warming.

I'm kind of surprised and skeptical they haven't found a bigger release.

Of course you are, but you should know, nothing can compare to the methane from your man Al. You should let him know you are wanting that bigger release.

Jun 23, 2016
Well, what can I say, unlike you not all of us have the "luxury" of having our heads wrapped around by their man-crush Al's rectum and so experience the glob.AL warming.


Yeah, only a jerk would say something like that about my hero Al-Gore, so you must be a real jerk. Sorry you were born that way I guess.

Of course you are, but you should know, nothing can compare to the methane from your man Al. You should let him know you are wanting that bigger release.

Of course, my man @anti-Al-Goreacle knows the smell of methane up close and personal. Of course I kid you guy, You know that since the industrial revolution, just like CO2, global methane levels have more than doubled! Where as CO2 has gone from 287ppm to 400ppm, methane has gone from ~722ppb to 1835ppb.

But if numbers aren't good enough for you little mind... Oh well 5th grade level then.

Jun 23, 2016
You need to extract yourself from your man-crush Al, since his methane is not doing your lone neuron any good. Join us in the real world and have someone with a brain read and explain this study to you. All the doom and gloom Al has been preaching is not happening.

But if the real world isn't good enough for you(r) little mind... oh well brain dead level then.

Jun 25, 2016
You puny man crush humor always cracks ... me ... up. You must really have a real sense of humor what with your mules all having heat stroke and stuff. You know, you can deny all you want about AGW, but soon you will just have to deal with. Instead of being an ass about it, you ought to learn and do something good the help humanity, your family, your kids or future ones.

Do that, and then you can bitch to me about a man crush.

Jun 25, 2016
you ought to learn and do something good the help humanity, your family, your kids or future ones.

You ought to listen to good advice. You need to join us so that you can smell the truth instead of your man-crush, Al's methane.
http://abcnews.go...p;page=1
http://www.nation...0d63c40d

Jun 27, 2016
1/5 stars by 5 people... good. My sarcasm was duly noted and of course, no one can argue the point. The alarmists' disappointment over this news is tangible. One has to wonder what their doom fantasy offers them?

Jun 28, 2016
Chicken Littles don't care about Arctic methane...oh...wait...there is none.
Reality, the bane of the AGW Cult and their doom and gloom imperative.

Jun 28, 2016
1/5 stars by 5 people... good. My sarcasm was duly noted and of course, no one can argue the point. The alarmists' disappointment over this news is tangible. One has to wonder what their doom fantasy offers them?

Bombastic blather from a blowhard.

Jun 29, 2016
With little observed change in methane emissions, researchers are further examining the Barrow observatory's dataset for signs that the permafrost has been emitting carbon dioxide, by far the most significant of the greenhouse gasses

Another excellent example of how your tax dollars are being "well" spent by NOAA and NASA.
They wasted MILLIONS looking for methane and did not find the doom and gloom they have been preaching to the Chicken Littles. So, guess what, it's CO2 that's most significant, let's waste MILLIONS more looking for that now.
PS: It's rather amusing how the Chicken Littles choose to remain in their willful ignorance by avoiding reality.

Jun 29, 2016
1/5 stars by 5 people... good. My sarcasm was duly noted and of course, no one can argue the point. The alarmists' disappointment over this news is tangible. One has to wonder what their doom fantasy offers them?

Bombastic blather from a blowhard.


Asinine alliteration from an a-hole. Look how much you added to the conversation Maggnus. You've really elevated it in the name of science. Keep representing.


Jun 29, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Jun 29, 2016
LOL.
Another gem from AGreatWanker. Tell us, how does this demonstrate AGW is falsifiable?

PS: Don't forget to take your meds.

Jun 29, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Jun 29, 2016
That's great. He admits he can't parse the article and see how the scientific method works.

AGreatWanker, refusing to take his meds, then talking to and voting for himself. AGreatWanker, your many suck-puppets just confirms you are a fraud and mentally ill. Now just keep braying the catechisms your cult has fed you.

Jun 29, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Jun 29, 2016
LOL.
AGreatWanker, refusing to take its meds and only fooling itself with its many suck-puppets. AGreatWanker, perhaps you can get one of your suck-puppets to look up the meaning of "ad hominem".
LOL.

Are you were mentally ill or mentally retarded. Which is it retard?

Jun 29, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Jun 29, 2016
Which one of your retarded suck-puppets could possibly comprehend that response?
Now AGreatWanker, go take your meds and enlighten us to your claim that this study proves AGW is falsifiable.
LOL.

Jun 29, 2016
One can only conclude that a), you have no other response in your armoury,

AGreatWanker, wanks higher than any on the forum.
He commands a quack wegion of suck-puppets.

Jun 30, 2016
antigoracle claims
Oops. Another nail in the CO2 filled coffin of AGW Cult lies
Shootist claims
Oops. Another nail in the CO2 filled coffin of AGW Cult lies
Yet both of them have been here ages ie 2009/2008 & I have posted for their review Physics at the core of AGW ie 3 links:-

https://en.wikipe...transfer
Physics leads to
https://en.wikipe..._forcing
Which as the link shows retains approx 1.5Watts/m^2 to Earth's heat balance. ie Rather significant !

Fortunately for us oceans overall have almost 4000 times heat capacity of the atmosphere
which moderates atmospheric temperatures considerably, Physics is
https://en.wikipe...capacity

Physics in the links have have been confirmed many times over ~ 100+ years & been shown here often to antigoracle/Shootist & others but, refuse to; read, learn, understand or even engage :/

Why are bulk of AGW deniers remain so Willfully ignorant of proven Physics ?

Jun 30, 2016
Mutterin' Mike, Wikipedia (2 links) scholar and Bonobo "monkey" enthusiasts, proves he cannot cut & paste, far less read and comprehend nor comment on this study.

Jun 30, 2016
Apologies, Shootist's quote was in fact
Warmists are barking mad and howling at the moon
ie Ugly, I've no excuse, other than reliance upon double use of sites' Quote link & expecting consistent internet access during requisite 3 mins edit period via remote sat nav/net at sea :/

But, hey notice antigoracle can't count ie 3 links not 2, oh dear !

His Bonobo jibe very old/puerile, I already apologised misreading genus branch several months ago, is this the very best antigoracle can do, off topic & primary school jibes of utterly low IQ ?

How about Physics antigoracle (& Shootist), tell us how politics of your nemesis Al Gore managed to influence Math/Physics > 100 yrs ago to make radiative transfer a key aspect of AGW ?

Great means to clarify re AGW; Physics well settled along with much older Math of Integration but, climate isn't settled ie how/where the extra heat's distributed & how it influences albedo long term Eg equatorial to Middle Latitudes regions...

Jun 30, 2016
LOL.
Mutterin' Mike, Wikipedia (2 links) scholar and Bonobo "monkey" enthusiasts, reaffirms he cannot read, far less comprehend. Mutterin' Mike just because you paste a third link, it does not make you a scholar of it. Case in point your Bonobo monkey comment and link.
MM please find someone with a brain to read and explain this study to you and perhaps you might just impress yourself with a comment about it.

Jun 30, 2016
antigoracle says
.. just because you paste a third link, it does not make you a scholar..
Beg pardon, never claimed to be a scholar of wikipedia.

Notice *all* 3 (three) links in the one post, ie you can't count !

antigoracle claims
...Bonobo monkey comment and link
Didnt raise or link here, smart to focus on article &/or Physics yah think

antigoracle adds
.. you might just impress yourself with a comment about it
Beg Pardon, didnt notice I'm addressing your comment, expand then why's it any sort of "nail" ?

@pongobongo
No change attacking persona ie Nil Physics/Science or article in any way at all & inability to infer/deduce intent from my sentence claiming
.. not offered in any language known to man
Really, you managed a survey - when/where/samples/method any schooling at all ?

Same as antigoracle/Captain Stumpy/Uncle Ira - feeble unsupportable low IQ claim only motivated for personal attack :/

That all you got, no Physics/Science at all ?

Jun 30, 2016
Chicken Littles don't care about Arctic methane...oh...wait...there is none.
Reality, the bane of the AGW Cult and their doom and gloom imperative.

"But that doesn't mean thawing permafrost isn't releasing carbon, Sweeney said. "It's happening. It just isn't showing up as methane."

Arctic permafrost contains an estimated 1,000 gigatons (1,000 billion tons) of carbon. Besides being emitted as methane, carbon stored in thawing permafrost could be released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, carried off by meltwater into river systems, or taken up by vegetation as plant communities expand their range."

Jun 30, 2016
pongobongo claims
.. "style" is so unique that it is evidence of a very disordered mind
What evidence of professional opinion - whos please ?

NB. On contrary I'm advised by those exceeding my education I've a focused clear mindset not sullied by others negativity, dealing with core Physics/Science across disciplines able to do this on any topic under the Sun, only takes a few hrs to prepare, try me please your best Physics/Science ?

pongobongo asks
So maybe you will explain in English what this means? "..other than reliance upon double use of sites' Quote link & expecting consistent internet access during requisite 3 mins edit period via remote sat nav/net at sea :/"
1. Look at Quote link below ea comment, click on more than one to create compendium
2. My internet access not consistent
3. When remote eg internet via satellite or in country rather worse

pongobongo couldn't infer & STILL nil physics, nil science, *only* personal attack :/

so.. sad..

Jun 30, 2016
LOL
Mutterin' Mike, Wikipedia (2 links) scholar and Bonobo "monkey" enthusiasts, reaffirms he cannot read, far less comprehend and is still obviously too dense to get the insult. Mutterin' Mike, what I'm saying to you, is that you can post a 100 links and you'll still just be a 2 links scholar. And, to prove my point, I presented the case where you posted a link to Bonobo apes and claimed they were monkeys.
MM, when you grow a brain, perhaps you can comment on the article.

Jun 30, 2016
"But that doesn't mean thawing permafrost isn't releasing carbon, Sweeney said. "It's happening. It just isn't showing up as methane."

So, NASA and NOAA, propagated the lie...er...excuse me...AGW Cult "scientific" fact, that GloBull warming was responsible for the release of methane in the Arctic. And, off they went, wasting millions to prove it, but of course, reality got in the way. Ah well, what is a "good" AGW Cult "scientist" to do, to save face? How about, doubling down on the lie and wasting more millions, after all the Chicken Littles are still hungry for their doom and gloom.

Jul 01, 2016
Same as antigoracle/Captain Stumpy
@mike
1- baiting into a flame war is considered the lowest form of "scientific integrity"

2- https://www.psych...ttle-ego

3- http://www.readingbear.org/

4- No change attacking persona ie Nil cogent communication or article in any way at all & inability to infer/deduce intent nonexist per demonstrated posts

5- very old/puerile considering

6- is this the very best you can do, off topic & primary school jibes of utterly low IQ?

if you're gonna continue to promote your stupidity on other threads and ya can't be man enough to deal directly with me then i'm just gonna downrate your crap (maybe more) for baiting when you do it on a thread where i'm not even posting, ok?

thanks!

perhps yu cn lrn to tlk wthot mny vwls so yw cn be mre pchnk, eh?
:-)

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