An international team of researchers led by scientists at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks found a section of the Arctic ocean seafloor primed to release massive amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The methane, previously thought to be permanently sealed underground by frozen permafrost, is beginning to leach through cracks as the planet warms and the permafrost melts.
Methane is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and the recent research shows a faster acceleration toward climate change may be in our immediate future.
Co-leader of the research team, Natalia Shakhova, found that current levels of atmospheric methane hover around 1.85 parts per million, compared with the geological record high of .7 ppm. Current methane levels in the atmosphere are the highest they've been in 400,000 years. This new research out of Fairbanks adds a previously absent component to climate models, and will likely shift scenarios of what our climate will look like.
Research out of the UK Met Office also points to accelerating climate change in our future. An international team of scientists analyzed over 100 papers published since the IPCC's last report in 2007. The team's findings support the IPCC's classification of human-caused global warming as "unequivocal." The review compared the expected natural shifts in climate with scenarios that take human influence into account. The atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases and evidence of warming we've already seen are unprecedented.
Check out the Arctic methane story here.
Read about the new anthropogenic global warming study here.