Overlooked VOC Emissions from Thawing Arctic Permafrost May Increase Warming and Pollution

Environmental Research Letters, October 12
In thawing permafrost peatland soils studied in Finland, emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs, including alcohols, acids, ethers, and aldehydes) doubled when temperatures increased from 0 to 5°C.  Such VOCs help form tropospheric ozone, which contributes to both air pollution and global warming.  Under high emissions scenarios, more than 40% of permafrost thaw will affect water-saturated soils, which emit more VOCs because wet conditions drastically slow the microbial activity that normally consumes these vapors. VOC emissions from thawing permafrost are poorly studied, but may play an important and increasing role in growing climate feedbacks.


Compiled by Amy Imdieke.

By Amy Imdieke, Global Outreach Director, and Pam Pearson, Director of ICCI.
Published Oct. 16, 2020      Updated Jul. 12, 2022 3:22 pm