TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A recent report highlighted in the Journal Nature is raising alarms about the mystery of accelerating atmospheric methane, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas.

A clue can be found in shocking images – like these below – of giant craters which erupted into existence in Siberia. Locals call them the gateway to the underworld.

Crater on the Yamal Peninsula, Siberia. Photo Credit: VASILY BOGOYAVLENSKY/AFP via Getty Images

Since 2014, scientists have found at least 17 of these. They’re caused by gas explosions in melting permafrost – ground that has been frozen for thousands of years – now thawing as the Arctic warms at 2 to 3 times the global rate.

This is one example of a climate feedback.  As ground like permafrost and wetlands heat up, they release more heat-trapping greenhouse gases – like methane – into the atmosphere, further warming the air — a dangerous cycle.

Pound for pound methane has 80 times more warming power than carbon dioxide. Since the start of the Industrial Revolution Methane has more than tripled.

Methane emissions are accelerating in the past decade. Image credit: WFLA

 Livestock is responsible for one-third of methane emissions and extracting oil and gas accounts for 25%.  

Production of Natural gas often leaks methane into the atmosphere

Since 2007, the rate of release has accelerated, but where is the increase coming from? It’s the question examined in this NOAA/University of Colorado Study.

The authors said it does not appear to be coming from fossil fuels. It seems to be biological in origin, hinting that climate change feedbacks may be causing the acceleration in methane emissions and consequently, more warming.

Melting permafrost releases long-trapped greenhouse gases back into the air

In response to the finding, the lead author of the study from NOAA said: “If microbial methane emissions from wetlands are increasing due to climate change, then that would constitute an extremely concerning climate feedback cycle that could amplify warming.”

Wetlands release methane