Permafrost thaw and methane release from Arctic lakes


Katey Walter Anthony observes flaming methane from a boreal forest pond. (UAF photo by Todd Paris)

Friday, February 24, 2017| 9:30-10:30 am, 401 Akasofu

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate warming. Permafrost thaw beneath lakes leads to large emissions of methane gas to the atmosphere. In turn, methane contributes to global climate warming, which leads to more permafrost thaw in a positive feedback cycle.

This talk will uncover natural sources of methane in Arctic lakes, from both the organic matter decay activity of microorganisms in lake bottoms and from geologic sources deep within the Earth. Katey Walter Anthony will present a relatively new discovery: that these very same permafrost thaw lakes have a natural process that mitigates greenhouse gas losses, and over the long term can lead to net climate cooling. We will consider the important balance between positive and negative feedbacks in the fate of thermokarst lakes and climate change in the past (since the last deglaciation), present, and future (until 2100).