No laughing matter

From The Harvard Gazette

The warming Arctic permafrost may be releasing more nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, than previously thought

By Caitlin McDermott-Murphy Harvard Correspondent

DateJune 6, 2019

About a quarter of the Northern Hemisphere is covered in permafrost. Now, it turns out these permanently frozen beds of soil, rock, and sediment are actually not so permanent: They’re thawing at an increasing rate.

Human-induced climate change is warming these lands, melting the ice and loosening the soil, and that can cause severe damage. Forests are falling; roads are collapsing; and, in an ironic twist, the warmer soil is releasing even more greenhouse gases, which could further exacerbate the effects of climate change.

Shortly after scientists first noticed signs of thaw in the early 1970s, they rushed to monitor emissions of the two most influential greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide and methane. But until recently, the threat of the third-most-prevalent gas, nitrous oxide (N2O) — known in dentistry as laughing gas — has largely been ignored.

In a 2010 paper, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rated permafrost nitrous oxide emissions as “negligible,” and few studies counter this claim.

But a paper published this month in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics shows that nitrous oxide emissions from thawing Alaskan permafrost are about 12 times higher than previously assumed. Since N2O traps heat nearly 300 times more efficiently than carbon dioxide does, this revelation could mean that the Arctic — and the global climate — are in more danger than we thought. “Much smaller increases in nitrous oxide would entail the same kind of climate change that a large plume of CO2would cause,” said Wilkerson, the paper’s first author and a Ph.D. student at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences based in the lab of James G. Anderson, the Philip S. Weld Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry at Harvard.

In August 2013, before Wilkerson joined the Anderson lab, members of the lab and scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) traveled to the North Slope region of Alaska, bringing with them a specially outfitted small plane that collected data on four greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, and nitrous oxide — that are naturally released from soil and water as part of microbial processes. Flying low, the airborne laboratory collected the gases over nearly 200 square miles, an area about four times the size of Boston proper. Using the eddy covariance technique, which measures vertical wind speed and the concentration of trace gases in the atmosphere, the team could determine whether more gases rose or fell.

In this case, what goes up does not always come down: Greenhouse gases rise into the atmosphere, where they trap heat and warm the planet. And nitrous oxide poses an even greater threat: In the stratosphere, sunlight and oxygen team up to convert the gas into reactive nitrogen oxides that eat away at the ozone layer, which absorbs most of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. According to the EPA, atmospheric levels of the gas are rising overall, and the molecules can stay in the atmosphere for up to 114 years.

When Wilkerson joined Anderson’s lab in 2013, the nitrous oxide data were still raw. He asked if he could analyze the numbers. “It wasn’t expected to be interesting or take very long,” Wilkerson said. “I viewed it as a mini-project. I said let’s use this data we have, because frankly collecting it had been very expensive. I thought I might as well do this, and I can get more eddy covariance experience at the same time.”

Sure, Anderson said, go right ahead. Both men figured the data would confirm what everyone already seemed to know: Nitrous oxide from permafrost is not a credible threat.

“It was 10 million times larger than any previous study looking at permafrost N2O emissions. It makes [previous] findings quite a bit more serious.”— Jordan Wilkerson

“The assumption is that these permafrost soils are so cold there wouldn’t be much microbial activity,” Wilkerson said. “Until 2009 there was no indication by any study whatsoever that emissions could actually be quite large in permafrost regions.”

Limited research had been done using core samples, which are warmed in the controlled environment of a laboratory to see how much gas the sampled peat releases, or 15 or 20 enclosed cylinders about 18 inches in diameter and several inches deep that sample a square meter or so of the gases released from the soil in which they’re embedded. Those studies suggested N2O might be higher than previously suspected but, said Wilkerson, “they didn’t gain much traction because they were looking at such small areas. It was easy to dismiss them as not being representative of permafrost as a whole.”

The Anderson data covered far more ground than any previous study, and when Wilkerson ran the calculations he found that high emissions were relatively widespread.

In just one month, the plane had recorded enough nitrous oxide to fulfill the expected cap for an entire year. Though the Anderson data represented just 193 of the 5.5 million square miles of the Arctic — like using a Rhode Island–sized plot to represent the entire United States — “it was 10 million times larger than any previous study looking at permafrost N2O emissions,” said Wilkerson. “It makes [previous] findings quite a bit more serious.”

Full article here.

HT/Willie Soon


134 thoughts on “No laughing matter

  1. The whole Northern Hemisphere land area was permafrost when the glaciers retreated, and what we have today is residual; most of the melting took place as we moved into the Holocene interglacial – and there is no evidence for a Methane or Nitrous Oxide or any other ‘potent’ greenhouse gas spike…. It seems like wishful thinking. Also earlier work in Alaska showed that methane was being released but was taken up by plants and didn’t make it to the atmosphere

    • Howard,
      A most cogent and applicable observation!
      Holocene history solidly refutes the alarmist conjecture.

      • I found it unusual to make such sweeping conclusions based upon the extremely small area flown over. Based on my experience with search and rescue, ATON, environmental and other maritime patrols, my fixed wing aircraft can search about 250 square miles in about 2 hours. It was also unclear about whether sensors simply collected a sum total nitrous oxide data or were capable of recording variances contemporaneously. There appears to have been no consideration of either surface or flight altitude wind velocity and direction in the content of overflown and peripheral land features all of which could effect concentration of various gases based upon those and other variable factors.

    • “The whole Northern Hemisphere land area was permafrost when the glaciers retreated…”
      Come on!
      Permafrost in Africa down to the equator, which is the majority of the continent?
      Northern South America?
      Central America?
      Tropical rainforests?
      All of SW Asia including Malay peninsula, half of Borneo, the Philippines, India and Ceylon, Florida, etc?
      That is just dumb!
      Please tell us you misspoke?
      I can tell you with certainty that most of these southerly locations I named were about the same as now, or else none of the tropical plants there could have survived. Many tropicals are killed graveyard dead by temps in the low 40s, and all of them are killed by a hard freeze.
      And large numbers have seeds that cannot germinate if they dry out, or fail to germinate within few months.
      Most of the land south of the glaciers terminus were never permafrost.
      Why do you think the glaciers were a mile high over NYC, but never made it down to Philly or South Jersey?

      • Glacial permafrost was only a narrow strip south of the Laurentide ice in North America. It was much more extensive in Eurasia, down to the Mediterranean, Black Sea-Caspian sea, Northern India and Northern China. Much of the present permafrost in North America (except in Alaska) is probably “new” and has evolved during the Holocene. The ground under the Laurentide icecapa was probably largely unfrozen (“warm-based glacier”):

      • Nicholas, Your tropical plant comments don’t wash with my experience. I gardened in South Florida for years. 95% of my plants were “tropical.” While we often got temperatures in the 40s degree F, it would take a really hard freeze to kill them above ground. Most returned the next spring from their root system. Most of the plants we had also have closely related species that lived in more temperate and mountainous areas in their country of origin. I believe there a group of closely related plants on Hawaii that grows from tropical areas up to near the snow line. Anyone that has dealt with tropical invasive exotic know that many rapidly adapted to local environments. More than one biologists has looked foolish announcing a given tropical species would not get much farther north than a given area due to freezes only to have the species adapt rather quickly to its new environment without its traditional competitors.

        • I ran a tropical plant nursery for many years.
          I could elaborate and argue about details, but the main objection I had was the statement that when the Holocene began, all the land in the northern hemisphere was permafrost.

      • I stopped reading at “About a quarter of the Northern Hemisphere is covered in permafrost.” How can the author get away with this obviously wrong statement? The Northern Hemisphere includes all area down to the equator and includes all the sea area.

    • Most of the permafrosts exists in an environment where it can not persist.. under the ocean.
      And since sea levels haven’t risen much since 1800’s, whatever natural processes that were occurring to drown the permafrosts in the first place are continuing, and will continue to to release co2 until sea levels drop again.

      • Permafrost can and has persisted for millenia under the ocean. Water temperatures in the Arctic ocean is close to or even under zero (salt water)

        • Well yeah, it’s not like it will thaw overnight, since it’s obviously been there for millennia already, and will take many more millennia to thaw completely. But in my opinion it’s more likely that sea levels will drop again before the subsea permafrost thaws completely.

    • Is the comment that methane is taken up by plants based on that wonderful 2012 paper claiming that Christmas trees absorb methane? One article about it is illustrated with a Christmas tree bedecked with Christmas lights. Maybe the lights were burning methane? Hard to tell whether it was a seasonal joke!

      Seriously though, more recent research suggests that trees can act conduits for methane produced by organisms in the soil or on the tree trunk, absorbing methane at one point on the trunk and releasing it higher up. The trees don’t appear to use the methane in any way, compared to their absorption and breakdown of CO2 and resulting production and release of oxygen. This is a long way from trees acting as methane sinks.

    • Howard care to name a plant that uses methane, I cannot find one. methane obviously breaks down eventually to co2 but no plant uses methane!

      • I concur with the contributions above challenging the idea that trees absorb CH4.

        There special instruments made for recording CO2 and CH4 emissions and these have been planted on melting permafrost ion the north slope of Alaska.

        The CO2 is slowly released and a larger amount is absorbed by trees growing on the melted ground. The uptake is far more than the emissions.

        End of short story

        • I agree, I lived for a year in the lower Yukon Delta. The bacteria that survives the deep freeze is not very energetic. Nor is there a lot of sugar in the tundra for the bacteria to thrive on.
          Any methane that is released from the few inches above the frost line is quickly converted to water and CO2 in the northern 24 hour sunlight. The tundra, which covers all the surface, has only a short time to grow and absorbs as much CO2 as produced. Like the Pete Moss in your potted plants at home, even with fertilizer it takes years for the bacteria to break it down.

  2. According to the “”Warmers” it does not really matter, as we will all be dead
    in 12 years time.

    Of course its yet just another means of trying to frighten us.

    Lets destroy the World just so we can then “”Save it””.


    • At least we’ll all be laughing as we die in 12 years. Thank you Joseph Priestly for discovering it and Humphrey Davy for discovering its anesthetic and ‘humorous’ side effects.

      But I thought the biggest problem was that N2O is a powerful Ozone depleting chemical. So we’ll laugh as we burn too.

      What a load of hogwash.

  3. So that’s what happened to the Dinosaurs… The Earth warmed from Dino farts and they all laughed themselves to death as N2O skyrocketed.

    Makes sense if you think about it…… 0.o

  4. I wonder if we’ll ever see a paper from the climate change community that says “not as bad as we thought”

  5. August flux measurements are going to be close to the maximum. The study seems to be biased to produce a high annual result.

  6. Prohibited Question(?):. Why did not the N2O of previous warm periods not destroy the planet?

    I’ll wait.

    • Yeah, my thought exactly. As it has been warmer in the past, even in this cycle, why did nothing bad happen then?
      One would have to go full Mann Hockey Stick to think otherwise.

    • That’s along the lines of one my oft-posed questions to warmistas: if the *last” one degree increase in temperature didn’t make most plants and animals extinct, why will the *next* one degree increase do that?

      It also drives them nuts when I point out that a 1 degree Kelvin increase is a 0.366% change.

      Of course, they’ve never heard of the Kelvin scale!

      • What about what happened during the Roman Warm Period and the Minoan Warm Period, both of which where warmer than the temps we are experiencing at present. We seem to have passed through those even warmer periods just fine.

        • That argument never works on them. The come back is that the current warming is far faster than it was at that time if they even accept that it was warmer then. It’s also useless to point out that the entire ‘fast’ warming is based on a small fifteen-year-old period and that for the last twenty it has barely shifted.

          Their come back to that is “Nuh Huh. That’s impossible because we have had the warmest years ever in the last decade.”

          • “That argument never works on them. The come back is that the current warming is far faster than it was at that time if they even accept that it was warmer then.”

            It was just as warm in the 1930’s as it is today and the warming from 1910 to 1940 was of the same magnitude and same speed as the warming from 1980 to the present.

            In other words, this situation is not unprecedented, even compared to the recent past. No need to get exercised over N2O emissions.

            And on top of that, the global temperatures have been cooling for the last three years, down about 0.5C since Feb. 2016. So whatever N2O emissions we have now, they are less than three years ago because it is cooler now. And they are less than at the height of the surface temperature curve in the 1930’s, also because it is cooler now.

            N2O emissions: Much ado about nothing.

    • Because this time it is man made warming releasing the N2O!
      Uhm… er.. wait a minute… Somehow, It’s Bad… and getting 10,000 times worse!

    • Possible answer. If, as seems almost certain, the climate models are vastly over estimating the climate’s response to carbon dioxide they are also over estimating it’s response to other greenhouse gases.

    • Warmista do not believe in Earth history.
      It is the only possible reason they could be on about the crap they spew.

  7. They were probably picking up some of their small plane exhaust. Small plane engines put out a lot of NOx, especially if they are leaned out. If they did not have the pick up tube right behind the prop, in all probability they were sampling some of the exhaust.

  8. scientists first noticed signs of thaw in the early 1970s,

    Hold on. I thought we were in the throes of global cooling in the 1970s.

    I’m not able to cope with this Post Modern approach to language and science.

    • “Hold on. I thought we were in the throes of global cooling in the 1970s.”

      That is correct. The big scare back then was Human-Caused Global Cooling. Recall the 1974 issue of Science News showing a freezing city on its cover and wondering if the Earth was going into another ice age. All those climate scientists were so sure of themselves and their predictions even though they never produced any evidence that humans had anything to do with the cooling.

      Then about the beginning of the 1980’s the temperatures started to climb again and have climbed steadily up to today where they are currently a little cooler than the 1930’s (about 1C going by Hansen 1999).

      When the temperatures started to climb, the about-face among climate scientists was startling. Now they were all CAGW (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming) advocates and they have been pushing this narrative ever since.

      For those of us who lived through the Human-Caused Global Cooling scam, it is not difficult to be skeptical about the current Human-Caused Global Warming scam. In all this time, through both of these scams, the scientists have not produced one shred of evidence to back up their claims that humans have anything to do with forming the weather we experience.

      When the Human-Caused Global Cooling scam first came about i didn’t question their claims. I assumed they had the evidence to back up these claims, otherwise, being good scientists, they wouldn’t make such claims.

      But I came to realize after some years that they had no evidence, just claims and speculations and I became really frustrated with the way this was going and then the temperatures warmed up and the climate scientists did a 180-degree pivot and started pushing CAGW, AGAIN! without any evidence.

      And here we are: Lots of claims and no evidence to back up those claims. A truly unbelievable situation has come about. And it has been brought about by people who have nefarious goals in mind. They are deliberately misleading people to obtain fame and fortune and power. Btw, the Useful Idiots/True Believers aren’t misleading people, they are victims, too. Of course, it is hard to tell who is who, sometimes. 🙂

  9. Like Methane which is 300x more potent than C02, what is the resident time in the atmosphere? A quick Google reveals that it is nominally biologically active, meaning that it’s resident time in the atmosphere is probably years, not decades. What are the radiation absorbance bands (if I got that right) and do the bands already overlap the same bands in CO2 and water vapour? Just curious.

    • Plenty of scientists back in the 60s and 70s (not 70 tees!), felt that CO2 would cause warming, but it wasn’t warming, so they didn’t get a lot of traction.

      • For 30 years, CO2 was rising and the Earth was cooling.
        Do you think it is wrong they did not get traction?
        Then it warmed for under 20 years, then stopped warming for 20 years.
        All the while CO2 was not only increasing, but doing so faster.
        And so now we can conclude that those guys were right, and everyone else before and since them who disagrees was wrong?

        • The temperature/CO2 relationship is just as we expect. Ah, but I see you do not understand the subtle behavior of this artful gas, how it mixes with the atmospheric models because you are NOT a climate scientist.

          • are we reaching the end of the latest natural warming period? if so, at what point will we begin to cool towards a future ice age? will we continue warming for 10 more years, 100 more years, or 1000 years? If we can’t answer those simple questions accurately then all is just an exercise in futility. AGW was, is and continues to be a crock. As the natural climate changes occur, adapt or die.

        • “And so now we can conclude that those guys were right, and everyone else before and since them who disagrees was wrong?”

          You’re reading a lot into what I didn’t say. I was just stating fact.

          • I suppose I did.
            Probably not a good idea to comment when very tired.
            In any case, they have traction now, eh?

      • Actually every GHG gas is vastly more powerful than CO2 (CO2 itself most of all) when at extremely low concentration like N2O is.

        • Not really. The effect is measured per molecule. It doesn’t take many ppm to saturate an absorption band. After that the effect per molecule goes down very quickly.

      • That chart shows that H2O is by far the dominant greenhouse gas, so why all the furor over the other greenhouse gasses?

        • Because the physics of H2O in the atmosphere is so complex that it is impossible to calculate the effects from basic natural law, so for simplicity’s sake it is assumed to be simply a feedback of the vastly simpler CO2.

          • More likely because you can’t tax anyone over water vapor and you can’t use water vapor to take control of industries and individuals. Also you can’t guilt people over water vapor.

  10. FDR 1933 first Inaugural address: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself!”
    Leftists and academia now: We have nothing to offer but fear itself!
    We have to find a way to stop subsidizing this constant stream of alarmist crap we’re subjected to day in and day out.

  11. Seems desperate. Maybe they can turn over rocks and find a bunch more terrifying things to cause catastrophic warming. Now, if they could find the catastrophic warming…..

  12. That’s along the lines of one my oft-posed questions to warmistas: if the *last” one degree increase in temperature didn’t make most plants and animals extinct, why will the *next* one degree increase do that?

    It also drives them nuts when I point out that a 1 degree Kelvin increase is a 0.366% change.

    Of course, they’ve never heard of the Kelvin scale!

    • What is the concentration of it in the air?
      What happens when NO2 is incorporated into clouds and precipitates?
      NO2 and H2O react to form nitric acid.

  13. The whole attitude is contained within the opening statements when the unsubstantiated assertion “human-induced climate change”

    After that, I stopped reading.

    • Yes, I agree. Here’s the quote:

      “Human-induced climate change is warming these lands,”

      This “scientist” starts off making a claim he couldn’t prove if his life depended on it.

      There is NO evidence that CO2 is changing the Earth’s climate or warming any lands. Anyone who says there is, is either lying to you or is seriously misinformed.

      It seems every climate science study nowadays assumes CO2 is affecting Earth’s atmosphere. Someone should ask these people what they base their assumptions on because there is no evidence to back up their claims. It’s just one unsubstantiated claim after another in CAGW climate science.

      At least we get to challenged the assumptions today. That was a lot harder to do before the age of the internet. 🙂

  14. The permafrost has always melted at the surface every summer. Otherwise you wouldn’t get Arctic flowers and grasses to grow as they do.

    • I did some checking and stopped reading when I got the part about forests toppling due to thawing permafrost.
      Forests growing out of frozen ground?
      The definition of permafrost is very broad, not what most would think of.
      broken coverage of as little as 10% and less make up a substantial fraction of “permafrost”.
      They also (apparently) count offshore areas with ice in the sediment, and some of the land under glaciers and ice sheets.

      • What I found was detailed below.
        “permafrost” includes areas that have discontinuous coverage, and any fraction of ice below ground, no matter how deep. And includes ground frozen for two years or more.
        It does not represent only places where the ground is frozen completely.
        So the statement about 24% of NH land surface is misleading at best.
        In fact, it is not even wrong.
        It is a huge exaggeration, and is not backed up by the math on total land area and the amount which is only partly frozen in spotty coverage.
        Just have a look at the area of partial and continuous coverage, and compare it to the map of all land in the NH.

  15. Given the choice between Anthropogenic Methane emissions and Arctic Nitrous Oxide, I will gladly take the Arctic product. Anthropogenic Methane leaves me in tears, but Nitrous Oxide leaves me relaxed. The first raises my blood pressure and the second lowers it. My first serious encounter with Nitrous Oxide was at my Dentist’s office. Remember, better living through chemistry.

  16. Keep in mind that so-called “permafrost” is not actually, um, permanent. Permafrost is ground that has been frozen for only two consecutive years or longer. I’ve noticed that most of the Warmist Community doesn’t bother to point out that little fact when telling us we’re melting, we’re melting.

    • They also do not mention the surface area that is “more or less influenced by permafrost” may have 10% and even less ice in it, that any ice may be 10 or 20 feet down, or more, or may be a shallow thin layer.
      What they are referring to is only in small area of continuous and permanently frozen soil.
      The rest is spotty, patchy, with often a small amount of ice, sometimes very deep.

  17. …. scientists first noted signs of the thaw in the 1970’s……… In the 1970’s scientists in noted that the next ice age was imminent.

  18. the two most influential greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide and methane.

    Water vapour seems to have been forgotten as the most prevalent (and influential for the greenhouse effect) gas.

    The Oz CSIRO’s description of greenhouse gasses also does not mention wv, only the ‘long-lived’ gasses, starting with CO2

  19. I am looking at my big magnetically levitated globe spinning around on my mantle, and looking at the part that is far enough north to be frozen all year around.
    For one thing, a lot of it is ocean.
    For another, it is impossible (very unlikely at the very least), as determined by a careful analysis by my Mark I eyeball, that this is one quarter of all the area north of the equator.
    Let’s see the numbers on that assertion please.
    Did she use a Mercator Projection or something to ascertain that number?

    • I was also wondering about the origin of the N2O . Further down Atheok gives a link to a reference that talks of microbiological action , though at permafrost temperatures that will be slowed to virtually zero.
      Presumably , then , it is the N2O trapped in the vegetation (mainly grass based peat/) that was frozen during past Little and Great Ice ages. But peat is around in many temperate zones where microbial action is present , so must be being generated now in quantities that far exceed that trapped in the far North.
      I have not previously had the impression that IPCC consider its current emission , from peat lands , agricultural land or common grazing areas a matter of major concern.

  20. Well, I answered my own query that I asked previously by doing some more Googling. First N2O residence time in the atmosphere is listed as 114 years. It’s makes up approximately 0.00003% of the atmosphere. For comparison Methane that other GHG with 300x potency to CO2 is 0.00017%. It does have absorption bands at 0.3 and 0.8 micron which do not overlap Water vapor or CO2. However with CO2 making up 0.04% of the atmosphere and N2O make up 0.00003%, N2O being 300x more potent is basically stuff all.

  21. Aha
    “.The extent of permafrost varies with the climate: in the Northern Hemisphere today, 24% of the ice-free land area, equivalent to 19 million square kilometers, is more or less influenced by permafrost. Of this area slightly more than half is underlain by continuous permafrost, around 20 percent by discontinuous permafrost, and a little less than 30 percent by sporadic permafrost.”
    IOW, this is a very broad, some might say overly broad, definition of permafrost, and is certainly not what most people would picture when thinking of “permanently frozen ground”
    It includes areas of exposed bedrock, and large amounts with what some might call only a trace (<10%)of ice, often many meters deep. With the rest regular dirt.
    A map detailing zones:

    • The land area of the NH is somewhere around 40,000,000 square miles.
      All of continental Europe
      All of North America, Central America and the Caribbean
      The vast majority of Asia, except part of Maritime Southeast Asia (which straddles the Equator)
      About ​2⁄3 of Africa, just above Lake Victoria
      About ​1⁄10 of South America, north of the mouth of the Amazon River

      The reference material for the 24% number says that there are about 19,000,000 sq km in more or less “influenced” by permafrost.
      There are 2.56 sq km in a sq mi.
      19,000,000 sq km is about 7,400,000 sq mi.
      7.4 is not 24% of 40.

  22. Harvard and alarmists are grasping at straws.
    Apparently since the much ballyhooed and dreaded Methane clathrate (aka methane hydrate) has been demonstrated to not be a looming cause of doom; N₂O has been promoted for climate fear and fright purposes.
    Amazing since N₂O is currently approximately 326 ppb (Parts per billion) atmospheric concentration. The alleged 300 times global warming potential of N₂O is based on using an assumed 120 year atmospheric half life as part of the calculation.

    “In a 2010 paper, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rated permafrost nitrous oxide emissions as “negligible,” and few studies counter this claim.”

    Few studies counter permafrost N₂O negligible release.

    “But a paper published this month in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics shows that nitrous oxide emissions from thawing Alaskan permafrost are about 12 times higher than previously assumed.”

    12 times negligible is still negligible.

    “The microbial by-product nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas and ozone depleting substance, has conventionally been assumed to have minimal emissions in permafrost regions. This assumption has been questioned by recent in situ studies which have demonstrated that some geologic features in permafrost may, in fact, have elevated emissions comparable to those of tropical soils. However, these recent studies, along with every known in situ study focused on permafrost N2O fluxes, have used chambers to examine small areas (<50 m2). In late August 2013, we used the airborne eddy-covariance technique to make in situ N2O flux measurements over the North Slope of Alaska from a low-flying aircraft spanning a much larger area: around 310 km2. We observed large variability of N2O fluxes with many areas exhibiting negligible emissions. Still, the daily mean averaged over our flight campaign was 3.8 (2.2–4.7) mg N2O m−2 d−1 with the 90 % confidence interval shown in parentheses. If these measure "

    N.B.; Waffle words used to imply proof.
    N.B.2; Most methods were in-situ chambers to measure N₂O; whereas this study used airplanes to “sample” N₂O concentrations; all N₂O collected is assumed to be from Permafrost.

    N₂O is a straight line molecule, like CO₂ which means minimal infrared interaction.

    “N2O is the third most influential anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) behind CO2 and CH4. Inert in the lowest atmospheric layer, N2O eventually rises into the stratosphere.”

    N₂O is an oxidizer.
    There’s good reasons why racers use N₂O to boost their horsepower.
    N₂O reacts with hydrogen, ozone and with methane.
    N₂O is subject to nitrification and denitrification processes; e.g. soils and waters.
    N₂O increases oxygen availability to fires, even ordinary wood fires; e.g. forest fires.

  23. By the time one delves into the details and does some fact checking and confirmation, it is clear this is even drivelier than the typical alarmist drivel.

  24. As Nitrous Oxide is produced by burning diesel oil in internal combustion engines, and which has been emitted from vehicles in cities and towns across the world in great quantities for the last eighty years without any danger to the health of the nation, what is the problem?

  25. The previous interglacial period, the Eemian, was warmer than this one with more ice cap melting and higher sea levels yet no climate tripping points were ever reached so w need not worry.

  26. “Greenhouse gases rise into the atmosphere, where they trap heat and warm the planet.”
    Yes. Just like on Halloween the Great Pumpkin rises into the air to find the most sincere pumpkin patch and reward the owner with toys and goodies.

  27. Did that paper author go look at the areas sampled? No. Likely never stirs her stumps to go see anything, just takes the data and does what she wants with it. Meh. Okay.

    Well, trying to panic people over CO2 isn’t working, so let’s use something else, something that might make them giggle. Aha! Nitrous oxide, from the dentist’s office. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

    But don’t leave the comfort of the office and go into the field and do the sampling work first hand, because that requires endurance and fortitude, a quality absent in chairwarmers with computers.

    Thanks for the article giving us another angle of Da Sillies coming from these people.

  28. Translation of above article:
    We have succeeded in mobilizing a large number of the gullible masses (the XR movement, schoolchildren) but we have not yet reached peak wacko.
    Time to turn the volume up.. to.. TWELVE!

    Thought for the day: Al Gore went to Harvard.. or did Harvard go to Al Gore?

  29. “Since N2O traps heat” … these are scientists right ? greenhouse gases don’t trap heat … never have never will …

  30. So now it’s N2O that will produce a hothouse runaway …

    N2O makes the climate clownery even more laughable.

  31. Nox and Methane are short term chemicals. N2O specifically reacts quickly in the atmosphere, which is why its regulated, as a ozone precursor. So, we have a chance of making small amounts of smog over the arctic that will quickly break down. They aren’t comparable to CO2.

    Why are these people so ignorant of undergraduate level environmental science? This is freshman level stuff here.

    • “Why are these people so ignorant of undergraduate level environmental science? This is freshman level stuff here.”
      I think you are confusing N₂O with NO₂.

      • Nick, no. All of the NOx compounds react in very similar ways. N2O is the most stable of the three, yes, but it’s still short term. Not comparable.

        • “All of the NOx compounds react in very similar ways.”
          Completely untrue. NO₂ is an acidic oxide, which reacts with water, and is the one that is regulated as an ozone precursor. Environmental N₂O is not regulated in the same way. NO reacts quickly with oxygen to form NO₂. N₂O does not react with water or oxygen, and it does persist a very long time.

    • “Why are these people so ignorant of undergraduate level environmental science? ”

      Because if not, they couldn’t be fanatics of the climate church clownery.

  32. There is massive amounts of N2O released by soil tillage and chemical fertilizer. Have not seen much research on that but then again that would not be anti meat. So never mind.

  33. «N2O traps heat nearly 300  times more efficiently than carbon dioxide does «.
    In physics, the specific heat capacity is a measure of the ability of a substance to absorb heat. At constant pressure these values for carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide are 0.844 and 0.88 kJ/(kg K).
    It is very interesting to know which physics explains this ratio 300 in “heat trapping”?

    • GHG:s don’t “trap heat”, that is just propaganda verbiage for the idiot generation which hasn’t a clue about physics.

  34. Post says:
    The warming Arctic permafrost may be releasing more nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, than previously thought

    Oh jeesh….
    Maybe it would cause a good laugh.

  35. So GHG concentrations have been underestimated…looks like climate sensitivity has been overestimated again then.

  36. Coulda,mighta,may’a .
    A biologist was core sampling permafrost up here about 20 years ago roughly 62 degrees north,using the comforts of a prospecting camp,drilling on our tundra.
    He laid the frozen drill samples out after passing them through a core saw.
    As they thawed in the sun,mosquito larva started wriggling.
    Larva dating,according to him,from the mega mammal era.

    Further north on Axel Heiberg Island lies a frozen forest, approximately 1.4 million years old.
    Perma-frost melting?
    Obviously unprecedented, since the last time.

  37. Maybe I’m missing something, but to accumulate the peat in the permafrost it must have been sufficiently warm in the past to grow the vegetation that died and accumulated as peat. Wouldn’t the presence of peat make an argument that it was warmer in the past?

  38. Permafrost doesn’t go to bedrock, it is simply a frozen surface layer anywhere from 1 foot to about 20 feet thick. Almost the entirety of the soil is already decaying and releasing gas underneath and having the permafrost start to do it will barely be a bump in the signal.

    Why do “scientists” not actually do any reference research before they declare the end of the world?

    Seriously, I can refute CO2-climate-change with what I was taught in grade school science classes.

  39. Let’s see:

    Water Vapor: 30,000ppm
    CO2: 412ppm
    CH4: 1.8ppm
    NO2: 0.38ppm

    The earth is still starved of CO2 and we should be ecstatic man’s burning of fossil fuels has helped increase CO2 to much healthier levels, which has increased global greening by 30% just since the 1980’s, and made plants more drought resistant..

    Within the next 5 years, the cooling effects from both the 30-year ocean cool cycles and the Grand Solar Minimum will make the disparity between CMIP5 average model projection (1.2C) and UAH6.0 (around 0.1~0.2C) to exceed 3+ standard deviations, with no discernible global warming trend for the past 30 years…

    Can we please stop talking about insignificant GHGs like NO2 at 0.38 ppm?

    This insanity will soon be over and the crazy pro-CAGW “climatologists” without tenure will be baristas at Starbucks….

  40. Can anyone explain to me how the emissions of N2O, which currently constitutes about 4 parts per 10,000,000 (10 million) of the atmosphere, be recorded at a concentration “10 million times higher than previously thought”, as claimed in this article?

    I call BS science, or terrible proof-reading of the article before publication in a so-called scientific magazine.

  41. Delete my last comment please mods.

    I just realised he was talking about the area covered by their sampling, not the concentration of N2O.

  42. “Forests are falling; roads are collapsing; and, in an ironic twist, the warmer soil is releasing even more greenhouse gases, which could further exacerbate the effects of climate change.”
    Since when do forests grow in permafrost?

    • Oh yes, they do. Mostly in Siberia, but also in Alaska.

      That is, strictly speaking they grow in the active layer which melts every summer, not in the permafrost, and the trees can become unstable when the active layer thickens.

  43. If the permafrost areas were extending to the South, I’m sure that would be a more urgent problem.
    The only thing that’s not a problem is if nothing ever changes.


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