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A man wearing shorts and a t-shirt walks in the town center as the melting Longyear glacier looms behind during a summer heat wave on Svalbard archipelago on July 30, 2020 in Longyearbyen, Norway. Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
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The Melting Glaciers of Svalbard Offer an Ominous Glimpse of More Warming to Come

A man wearing shorts and a t-shirt walks in the town center as the melting Longyear glacier looms behind during a summer heat wave on Svalbard archipelago on July 30, 2020 in Longyearbyen, Norway. Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
A man wearing shorts and a t-shirt walks in the town center as the melting Longyear glacier looms behind during a summer heat wave on Svalbard archipelago on July 30, 2020 in Longyearbyen, Norway.
Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

New research reveals what one scientist called a “very stark image of climate change” as methane leaks from springs exposed by the glaciers’ retreat.


The remote Arctic islands of Svalbard, Norway, the northernmost settlement in the world, have been called a canary in the coal mine of climate change, warming more than two times faster than other areas of the Arctic and five to seven times faster than the rest of the planet.  

Because of this warming, Svalbard offers climate researchers a preliminary look at what’s coming for the rest of the Arctic. 

Research published Thursday in Nature Geoscience examines a new source of Arctic methane emissions in Svalbard coming from groundwater springs that pop up in areas uncovered by retreating glaciers. 

As climate change causes more glaciers to melt it could create a feedback loop, with glacier melt from warming producing methane, a potent greenhouse gas, producing more warming.  Since the Arctic warms faster than climate models predict, identifying new sources of carbon emissions can help better refine these models. 

“What we found is that these groundwater springs were just completely untouched or unknown sources of methane in the Arctic, both on Svalbard and very likely across the Arctic,” said Gabrielle Kleber, a lead author on the study and a graduate student at the University of Cambridge. 

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Source:

Lydia Larsen at Inside Climate Change


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