There have been concerns about melting permafrost and the amount of greenhouse gases that this releases in the Arctic for some years but there has also been a lack of data to show how worried we should really be. But a new study released today adds to the evidence that this is something we should be very concerned about.

Why should we be worried?

The greenhouse gases, such as methane, are trapped deep beneath thick layers of permafrost that are often thousands of years old. The top layer of permafrost thaws and freezes on an cyclical basis, but the new study shows that gases trapped even very deep are finding their way to the surface and into the air.

As these gases are released, more heat will be trapped in the air, speeding up global warming, causing more permafrost to melt even more quickly, releasing more gases and so the cycle starts again. This is called a feedback loop.

Read more about the melting permafrost.

Picture: Yukon Coastal Plain (Anna Konopczak, courtesy of INTERACT).