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Friday, June 14, 2013

NASA: Troubling Results From The Arctic

NASA's CARVE project measures greenhouse gases in the Arctic and although the project has three years to run, early results are quite troubling:

"Some of the methane and carbon dioxide concentrations we've measured have been large, and we're seeing very different patterns from what models suggest," research scientist Charles Miller of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said. "We saw large, regional-scale episodic bursts of higher-than-normal carbon dioxide and methane in interior Alaska and across the North Slope during the spring thaw, and they lasted until after the fall refreeze. To cite another example, in July 2012 we saw methane levels over swamps in the Innoko Wilderness that were 650 parts per billion higher than normal background levels. That's similar to what you might find in a large city."

Ultimately, the scientists hope their observations will indicate whether an irreversible permafrost tipping point may be near at hand. While scientists don't yet believe the Arctic has reached that tipping point, no one knows for sure. "We hope CARVE may be able to find that 'smoking gun,' if one exists," Miller said.

For more information on CARVE, visit: http://science.nasa.gov/missions/carve/ .