These new water bodies contribute to the thawing of the frozen permafrost soil, which is a huge natural reservoir of methane — a potent greenhouse gas. Beaver dams in the larger, 430-square-kilometer area on Alaska's Baldwin Peninsula have increased from 94 in 2019 to 174 in 2013 and 409 last year. Because the lakes the beavers create contain water that is warmer than the surrounding soil, the new bodies of water accelerate the permafrost thawing. Lakes and water bodies influenced by beavers accounted for two-thirds of the 8.3% increase in total surface water area in the Kotzebue study area during a 17-year period, the study found. "There are a lot of people trying to quantify methane and CO2 emissions from lakes in the Arctic but not specifically yet from beaver lakes," said Nitze.
Source: CNN June 29, 2020 23:15 UTC