Response of methane emission from arctic tundra to climatic change: results from a model simulation

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CHRISTENSEN, T. R. ; COX, P. (2011)

Methane is an important greenhouse gas contributing approximately 15% to the present greenhouse warming. Tundra ecosystems between 50°N and 70°N are estimated to contain 14% of the global soil carbon and account for between 20 and 25% of the natural methane emissions. Consequently, enhanced anaerobic decomposition of tundra soil carbon and the associated increase in methane production could provide a significant positive feedback on the anthropogenic greenhouse effect. This work is an attempt to quantify this feedback for arctic tundra. A model of permafrost thermodynamics and methane emission has been developed for inclusion in the UK Meteorological Office land surface scheme. This improved scheme was tested by driving it directly with surface meteorological observations and comparing the simulated methane emission to those observed during a field study on the North Slope of Alaska. Results are also presented from simulations carried out with the single column version of the Hadley Centre climate model, for both current conditions and a simple doubled carbon dioxide warming scenario. The latter shows a significantly enhanced methane emission. In order to assess the dependence of this result on the particular scenario chosen, offline sensitivity studies were carried out using meteorological observations and a range of perturbations to air temperature and rainfall.DOI: 10.1034/j.1600-0889.47.issue3.2.x
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