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Methane emissions in Arctic cold season higher than expected

The amount of methane gas escaping from the ground during the long cold period in the Arctic each year and entering Earth’s atmosphere is likely much higher than estimated by current climate change models, concludes a major new study led by San Diego State University.

A team comprising ecologists Walter Oechel (SDSU and Open University) and Donatella Zona (SDSU and the University of Sheffield) and scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Harvard University, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the University of Montana, found that far more methane is escaping from Arctic tundra during the cold months – when the soil surface is frozen (generally from September through May) – as well as from upland tundra, than prevailing assumptions and climate modelers previously believed.

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