21 May 2012:
Methane Sources Found
Bubbling Up from Melting Ice Caps
U.S. scientists report that they have discovered new sources of methane percolating up from underground reservoirs
as glaciers, ice caps, and permafrost melt in the Arctic. University of Alaska researchers, conducting aerial and ground surveys, said they have discovered 150,000 methane seeps in Alaska alone near the margins of retreating glaciers or thawing permafrost. In Greenland, the seeps tended to be concentrated around the margins of ice caps that have been retreating for the past 150 years, the scientists said. Katey M. Walter Anthony, lead author of the study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience
, said that these seeps in the earth’s frozen zones, or cryosphere, are not currently a major source of methane emissions. But, she added, “As the cryosphere degrades further, it could be a really big source.” Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and researchers are concerned that rapid warming of the Arctic could trigger a methane “time bomb
” as thawing permafrost, vegetation, and land ice result in the release of huge quantities of methane.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
A look at how acidifying oceans could threaten the Dungeness crab, one of the most valuable fisheries on the U.S. West Coast. Watch the video.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
An indigenous tribe’s deadly fight to save its ancestral land in the Amazon rainforest from logging. Learn more.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
Residents of the Chocó Rainforest in Ecuador are choosing to plant cacao over logging in an effort to slow deforestation.
Watch the video.
Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.