The Contribution from Methane to the Permafrost Carbon Feedback
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Purpose of Review
We assess the level of importance of methane (CH4) in the permafrost carbon feedback by reviewing recent scientific publications.
Studies that consider permafrost degradation in wetlands suggest that CH4 could have a share of ~20% in the warming caused by the total permafrost carbon release by 2100. When CH4 emissions from thermokarst lakes are considered, the contribution from permafrost CH4 to the surface warming increases to between 30 and 50%.
Based on the reviewed literature, we report that gradual degradation of the near-surface permafrost under unmitigated emissions scenarios could result in an additional warming of ~0.3 (0.08–0.50) °C by 2100, out of which up to 0.1 °C would be from wetland CH4 emissions. However, these values can be underestimates as the degradation of ice-rich permafrost and subsequent CH4 emissions from thermokarst lakes are not accounted for in the calculations.
KeywordsPermafrost carbon feedback Methane Thermokarst lakes Climate change
K. Zickfeld acknowledges support from the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant Program.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
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