According to a press release from NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmopheric Association), the percentage of methane in the atmosphere jumped sharply in 2007.
Could this be the beginning of the long-feared melting of the methane deposits frozen in permafrost?
Methane levels rose last year for the first time since 1998. Methane
is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, but
there’s far less of it in the atmosphere—about 1,800 parts per billion.
When related climate affects are taken into account, methane’s overall
climate impact is nearly half that of carbon dioxide.
growing industrialization in Asia and rising wetland emissions in the
Arctic and tropics are the most likely causes of the recent methane
increase, said scientist Ed Dlugokencky from NOAA’s Earth System
”We’re on the lookout for the first sign
of a methane release from thawing Arctic permafrost,” said Dlugokencky.
“It’s too soon to tell whether last year’s spike in emissions includes
the start of such a trend.”
Nonetheless, the graph (called "Methane Trend") doesn’t look reassuring.