Arctic methane levels have remained stable despite overall warming trends, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) concluded in a study Wednesday.
“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,” Colm Sweeney said in a press release accompanying the study.
There is over 1,000 gigatons (one thousand billion tons) of stored carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Arctic permafrost, roughly two and a half times the amount of CO2 humanity has released since the Industrial Revolution, researchers claim.
Methane is released from thawing permafrost reanimating bacteria that convert dead plant and animal matter into CO2 or methane (if oxygen is present, the bacteria release CO2; where there isn’t enough oxygen present, they release methane). As the Arctic warms, scientists expected that methane levels would naturally rise. Methane is roughly 30 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2.