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.
Rapidly 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 Research Laboratory.
”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.