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Evidence Continues to Mount for Ticking 'Methane Time Bomb'

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New research that utilized both ground-based measurements and aerial surveys in specific sub-arctic regions in Alaska and Greenland has discovered approximately 150,000 'methane seeps' - a phenomenon where methane gas previously held in the frozen permafrost beneath tundras or under arctic sea ice, is steadily released when warming causes melting.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and the sheer amount of it that is naturally existing -- some of it trapped under ground for hundreds or thousands of years -- would dwarf the impact of man-made emission levels if it was released at a rapid rate. This new research, performed by the the new Arctic project, led by Katey Walter Anthony from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks (UAF), and published in the journal Nature Geoscience suggests that the methane stores could have a dramatic and fast-occurring impact on overall global warming and runaway climate change.

"The Arctic is the fastest warming region on the planet, and has many methane sources that will increase as the temperature rises," Prof Euan Nisbet from Royal Holloway, University of London, also involved in Arctic methane research but not with this project, told the BCC in an interview. "This is yet another serious concern: the warming will feed the warming." 

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