In a new study, scientists have found that permafrost buried beneath the Arctic Ocean holds 60 billion tons of methane and 560 billion tons of organic carbon, making it a major source of greenhouse gases that is not currently being included in climate projections.

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Jennifer Frederick, a geosciences engineer at Sandia National Laboratories and co-author of the study, says, “It’s expected to be released over a long period of time, but it’s still a significant amount. This expert assessment is bringing to light that we can’t just ignore it because it’s underwater, and we can’t see it. It’s lurking there, and it’s a potentially large source of carbon, particularly methane.”

She adds, “I hope this study begins to unite the research community in submarine permafrost. Historically, it’s not only been a challenging location to do field work and make observations, but language barriers and other obstacles in accessibility to the existing observations and literature has challenged international scientific progress in this area.”

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