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Methane and other greenhouse gases in the Arctic (co-organized)
Convener: Sam Illingworth  | Co-Conveners: Oksana Tarasova , Garry Hayman 
 / Fri, 02 May, 13:30–15:00
 / Attendance Fri, 02 May, 17:30–19:00

The Arctic Circle is characterised by a harsh climate and extreme variations in both light and temperature. Due to several positive feedback mechanisms, the Arctic is also a region of locally rapid predicted climate change, with big changes in the Arctic also having important repercussions for the whole global climate.

The Arctic is home to large long-term reservoirs of methane in the form of permafrost soils on the land and methane hydrates beneath the seabed; and also large biogenic sources from wetland anaerobic decomposition in summer months. Such reservoirs and sources are vulnerable to destabilization in a warming climate. Sustained change on Arctic land areas has already been seen, with earlier snowmelts, longer growing seasons and record high temperatures in permafrost soils all consistently observed over recent years.

There are currently numerous international research projects concerned with monitoring the state of methane and other greenhouse gases in the Arctic, for example the Methane in the Arctic: Measurements and Modelling (MAMM) campaign in the UK, and NASA’s Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE) in the US. And with the continuing recession of the Arctic sea ice, there is also currently intense international discourse regarding the exploration of the Arctic for drilling and shipping purposes. It is therefore imperative that the scientific community is able to provide accurate and precise insight regarding the current situation of methane and other greenhouse gases in the Arctic, as well as the implications that potential drilling sites and shipping lanes could have on a both a local and global scale.

This session will explore recent work that is being done to improve quantitative knowledge of Arctic methane and other gases from various sources, and also welcomes papers that focus on the determination of the magnitudes and spatial distributions of these gases, as well as the development of process understanding, and the implications that projected changes in the Arctic climate could have on the global Earth system.