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Researchers: So the climate goals may be wrong

Melting permafrost creates a so-called positive feedback loop in the Arctic. The more permafrost thaws, the more carbon dioxide and methane are released into the atmosphere. It raises the earth’s temperature and the permafrost can thaw faster.

Warming is causing more warming, says Hannah Lee, a biologist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

Everywhere north of the Arctic Circle, new lakes are forming. When permafrost and ice below the Earth’s surface melts, depressions form, which fill with water. Then the lakes start releasing fossil methane that rises across the land, appearing as bubbles on the surface.

You may need to reduce our emissions even more

Emissions from thawing permafrost are now included in carbon budgets. But some climate scientists believe that the positive feedback is not sufficiently taken into account and that the models are missing important data. If the warmer Arctic releases more carbon than expected, the targets will be harder to reach. Then emissions will need to be reduced further than those specified in the Paris Agreement in 2015.

– There is a disgusting joker in the game. There are huge amounts of methane and natural gas in and under the permafrost, says ecologist Katey Walter Anthony.

Some lakes in Alaska leak so much methane that it is flammable. Watch more in the clip below!

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Scientists hunting for methane release the gas — and nearly burn themselves picture: SVT / World of Science

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