Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Thawing Permafrost Might Be Higher

A recent paper shows that nitrous oxide emissions from thawing Alaskan permafrost might about twelve times higher than previously assumed.

Nitrous oxide is about 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide so this might mean that the Arctic and global climate are in more danger than we thought.

The study only collected data on emissions during August. The data represents just 310 of the 14.5 million square kilometers in the Arctic, like using a Rhode Island-sized plot to represent the entire United States.

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics – Permafrost nitrous oxide emissions observed on a landscape scale using the airborne eddy-covariance method


The microbial by-product nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas and ozone depleting substance, has conventionally been assumed to have minimal emissions in permafrost regions. This assumption has been questioned by recent in situ studies which have demonstrated that some geologic features in permafrost may, in fact, have elevated emissions comparable to those of tropical soils. However, these recent studies, along with every known in situ study focused on permafrost N2O fluxes, have used chambers to examine small areas (<50 m2). In late August 2013, we used the airborne eddy-covariance technique to make in situ N2O flux measurements over the North Slope of Alaska from a low-flying aircraft spanning a much larger area: around 310 square km. We observed large variability of N2O fluxes with many areas exhibiting negligible emissions. Still, the daily mean averaged over our flight campaign was 3.8 (2.2–4.7) mg N2O m−2 d−1 with the 90 % confidence interval shown in parentheses. If these measurements are representative of the whole month, then the permafrost areas we observed emitted a total of around 0.04–0.09 g m−2 for August, which is comparable to what is typically assumed to be the upper limit of yearly emissions for these regions. SOURCES -Harvard, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics

4 thoughts on “Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Thawing Permafrost Might Be Higher”

  1. Do your homework. If you are not going to learn about carbon dioxide (CO2) and its cycles between Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and biosphere, learn about climate science history. There is no global warming conspiracy. With all the information available how could you believe such a thing. The science has roots in the work of Joseph Fourier CO2 research in 1824, John Tyndall in 1866, Sevante Arrhenius in 1896, Guy Stewart Callndar in 1939, Roger Revelle in the 40s and 50s, and a growing host of others to the present. KillerOceans.Com

  2. What sickness causes some of us to have such conspiracy theorist ideas about everything? First there is a conspiracy that climate change is happening, then there is a conspiracy that there is no climate change. These people with their conspiracy theories are like feathers in the wind with no anchor to reality.
    I met a guy at walmart yesterday that told me how our government(USA) and big business were suppressing the common man. When I pointed out that we live better than 93% of all the people in the world, his come back which is typical conspiracy theorists was “if we we were not held back we could do better”.

  3. Did you forget to post these gems of your usual copy paste manifesto or did you finally decide to give it some long overdue polish?

    “Haven´t you understand that the war about climate have nothing to do with climate just power to rule.”

    “The just want to get rid of democracy”

    “The war i all about power from high energy taxes”

  4. 300 times 0 is still 0

    No one have been able to detect higher greenhouse effect as function of higher level of CO2 in earth atmosphere.

    Why would they? after 150 ppm is the effect so near maximum lik 0.33333333 get higher for every new 3 but never be 1/3.

    See the one that clam to be the first who detect higher greenhouse effect as function of higher CO2.

    “The scientists measured atmospheric carbon dioxide’s contribution to radiative forcing at two sites, one in Oklahoma and one on the North Slope of Alaska, from 2000 to the end of 2010.”

    Other places such as Colorado or the whole world give the opposite result and most imported.

    The don´t show less energy radiation from earth to space in 14,5µm-15,5µm where CO2 act as greenhouse gas.

    Further more are we in an ice age and the interglacial before was 2,5C warmer global and 8C during 6000 years on Greenland, the land ice become 25% less that time and the forest that then was on Greenland show up under km thick ice in the bottom of drill holes.

    To get out of this 2,6 million long ice age to a more life friendly global climate we must have 5C warmer earth but greenhouse effect have never been what driven earth climate.

    Desert are cooling and desert are 25% smaller than 1850.

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