Methane from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf

Petrenko, VV, Etheridge DM, Weiss RF, Brook EJ, Schaefer H, Severinghaus JP, Smith AM, Lowe D, Hua QA, Riedel K.  2010.  Methane from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. Science. 329:1146-1147.

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In their Report “Extensive methane venting to the atmosphere from sediments of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf” (5 March, p. 1246), N. Shakhova et al. write that methane (CH4) release resulting from thawing Arctic permafrost “is a likely positive feedback to climate warming.” They add that the release of Arctic CH4 was implied in previous climate shifts as well as in the recently renewed rise in atmospheric CH4. These claims are not supported by all the literature they cite. Their reference 5 (1) presents measurements of emissions only of carbon dioxide, not CH4. Their reference 8 (2), a study we conducted, suggests that a very large (∼50%) increase in atmospheric CH4 concentration associated with an abrupt warming event ∼11,600 years ago was driven mainly by wetlands, without distinguishing between high and low latitudes. Their reference 9 (3) was published in 1993 and is not relevant to the renewed growth of atmospheric CH4 that started in 2007. Their reference 10 (4) does not imply Arctic CH4 releases in this renewed growth, and other recent work (5) also does not support sustained new emissions from the Arctic as the cause.