A new study has revealed that nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 298-times more powerful than carbon dioxide, is being released by thawing permafrost in Greenland.
Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, has been overlooked as a major climate change contributor in the Arctic, according to a report in Siku News.
The study, which was published in the Nature Geoscience journal, claimed that certain conditions caused by melting permafrost were creating gas surges in a region which underlies up to 25 percent of the northern hemisphere’s land mass. Thawing wetlands and the resulting nitrous oxide emissions in eastern Greenland were measured at 20 times those found in tropical forests, the primary source of heat-trapping gases.
“Measurements of nitrous oxide production permafrost samples from five additional wetland sites in the high Arctic indicate that the rates of nitrous oxide production observed in the Zackenberg soils may be in the low range,” the report stated.
In addition to the Zackenburg focus, Norwegian and Danish scientists also surveyed sites in Svalbard and Canada, where they confirmed that any similar releases would increase the impact of global warming.
Nitrous oxide, along with methane and carbon dioxide, is regulated by the Kyoto Protocol. The gas is a product of manmade sources such as fertilisers, but is also created by the burning of fossil fuels and nutrient-rich soil erosion.