Methane Leaking from Alaska Lake

NWF   |   January 5, 2008

Some time back, I wrote about a young Alaskian scientist Dr. Katey Walter who has been doing some very important research concerning the formation and leakage of methane from ponds and lakes in the once frozen permafrost regions of Siberia and Alaska.

Since methane molecules are 23 times more powerful as a heat-trapping molecules than carbon dioxide, scientists have long feared that melting tundra may yield increasing methane emissions from natural sinks of carbon, exacerbating global warming. 

As the northern landscapes warm, permafrost thaws, creating vast areas of ponds and lakes scattered throughout once frozen landscapes.  Under warming water, certain bacteria decompose the stored carbon and release methane. 

Katey’s work shows that methane leakage rates are five times greater than anyone had previously projected.  Her findings are a strong warning that methane leaking from the thawing North country is a dangerous feedback to our fragile climate system.

National Public Radio did a thorough report on her work that includes a startling video of methane bubbling from a study lake.  To see it, visit:

Published: January 5, 2008