Arctic – Surprising climate balance

Since the last glacial period so-called thermokarst lakes in Arctic permafrost areas have sequestered more greenhouse gases from the atmosphere than they ever previously emitted during their formation. An international team of scientists presents this surprising research result today in an online publication by the journal Nature. The researchers had examined up to 10,000-year-old soil deposits from northern Siberian lakes and calculated for the first time the total carbon balance for several hundred thousand bodies of water. Their conclusion was that the melt water lakes that came into being due to climate warming after the last glacial period emitted large amounts of methane for a short period. In the long run, however, they cooled the climate in the Arctic by absorbing and storing 1.6 times more carbon than they ever released. An increasingly warmer Arctic could reverse this process within a short time, however.

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