Rivers and lakes in Siberia emit greenhouse gases into the air following the thawing of permafrost

A new study on climate change and its effects on Siberia was carried out by researcher Svetlana Serikova for her doctoral thesis at the University of UmeƄ.

The researcher focused in particular on the imposed greenhouse gas emissions of rivers and lakes in those regions of Siberia where permafrost is undergoing marked levels of thawing. Traveling from the far south of the region to the Arctic Ocean area, where permafrost is more stable, the researcher has measured various levels of greenhouse gas emissions from rivers and lakes in different seasons and at different times.

The same researcher explains the result of her research in the press release: “I discovered that the rivers and lakes of Western Siberia are sources of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, the magnitude of which varies depending on the state of permafrost in this area. For example, greenhouse gas emissions from rivers were higher in areas where permafrost is thawing while greenhouse gas emissions from lakes were higher in areas where permafrost is still intact.”

River emissions, in fact, according to the researcher, are mainly controlled by temperature, while lake emissions are controlled by the respiration of sediment and the availability of recently thawed organic carbon.

Research suggests that much of the carbon that is frozen under permafrost ends up in rivers and lakes when permafrost melts and is then emitted as a greenhouse gas from the surface of water into the atmosphere to a greater extent than previously thought.

This research is also important because it highlights the fact that greenhouse gas emissions, in relation to global warming, can also occur indirectly and not only through combustion engines or industrial activities, just to mention two of the most frequently mentioned ways of emitting greenhouse gases into the environment.