Walter, K.M., Edwards, M.E., Grosse, G., Zimov, S.A. and Chapin III, F.S.
Thermokarst lakes as a source of atmospheric CH4 during the
Science, 318, (5850), . (doi:10.1126/science.1142924).
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Polar ice-core records suggest that an arctic or boreal source was responsible for more than 30% of
the large increase in global atmospheric methane (CH4) concentration during deglacial climate
warming; however, specific sources of that CH4 are still debated. Here we present an estimate of
past CH4 flux during deglaciation from bubbling from thermokarst (thaw) lakes. Based on high
rates of CH4 bubbling from contemporary arctic thermokarst lakes, high CH4 production potentials
of organic matter from Pleistocene-aged frozen sediments, and estimates of the changing extent of
these deposits as thermokarst lakes developed during deglaciation, we find that CH4 bubbling from
newly forming thermokarst lakes comprised 33 to 87% of the high-latitude increase in
atmospheric methane concentration and, in turn, contributed to the climate warming at the
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