Rising Methane Emissions from Retreating Glaciers: From Greenland to Alaska’s Mountains

Scientific Reports, 9 May 2024

Small mountain glaciers in Alaska release high levels of methane gas in their meltwater runoff, unleashing previously frozen methane stores as the ice retreats. Similar studies have documented such methane release from glaciers across Greenland, Svalbard, and Iceland; adding to this knowledge base, new observations make clear that retreating small mountain glaciers also contribute to global methane emissions. For instance, the retreating Castner mountain glacier along Alaska’s southern edge produces methane levels three times higher than typical for the surrounding landscape. Although it is not clear whether the scale of emissions from specifically mountain glaciers is large enough to affect the global methane budget, these findings make clear the importance of accounting natural carbon emitters including permafrost thaw in the development of realistic NDCs.


By Amy Imdieke, Global Outreach Director, and Pam Pearson, Director of ICCI.
Published May. 18, 2024      Updated May. 18, 2024 10:02 am