In climate change models one of many wild cards is the ancient methane stored in the bottom of shallow icy seas and sequestered away in Arctic permafrost. As the surface temperature warms, the potent greenhouse gas could be released, further warming the region and causing more methane ‘burps’. The process could theoretically feed back and run away, quickly:
(BBC) — We observed most of these cryosphere-cap seeps in lakes along the boundaries of permafrost thaw and in moraines and fjords of retreating glaciers,” they write, emphasising the point that warming in the Arctic is releasing this long-stored carbon.
“If this relationship holds true for other regions where sedimentary basins are at present capped by permafrost, glaciers and ice sheets, such as northern West Siberia, rich in natural gas and partially underlain by thin permafrost predicted to degrade substantially by 2100, a very strong increase in methane carbon cycling will result, with potential implications for climate warming feedbacks.”