Beaver activity in the Arctic increases emission of methane greenhouse gas


Beaver dam on the Seward Peninsula. Image-Ken Tape

The climate-driven advance of beavers into the Arctic tundra is causing the release of more methane — a greenhouse gas — into the atmosphere.

Beavers, as everyone knows, like to make dams. Those dams cause flooding, which inundates vegetation and turns Arctic streams and creeks into a series of ponds. Those beaver ponds and surrounding inundated vegetation can be devoid of oxygen and rich with organic sediment, which releases methane as the material decays.

Methane is also released when organics-rich permafrost thaws as the result of heat carried by the spreading water.

A study linking Arctic beavers

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