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.
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 (
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