Investigate permafrost characteristics : for Undergraduate

  • Use a computer-based model/ simulation to observe and compare the changes in the concentration of methane in the global atmosphere when compared with normal trends (resulting from natural and anthropogenic emissions), when a sudden increase in methane (as an effect of thawing of permafrost) is introduced.
  • The model/ simulation also enables students to observe the radiative forcing of methane when compared with that of carbon dioxide under similar conditions.
  • Use the model/simulation 'METHANE in the Atmosphere' by Prof. David Archer, University of Chicago, to observe the methane concentration in the atmosphere under different hypothetical conditions and timescales. Large-scale thawing of the Earth's permafrost can lead to a sudden release of the greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere.
  • Go to Model Metadata. Then, click the 'Overview' tab to read about the model.
  • Next, play the 'Video Introduction' to understand how the model can be used to simulate sudden methane perturbations in the atmosphere. Observe the subsequent impact on its atmospheric concentration.
  • Now, run the model to-
    • note changes in atmospheric methane concentration or
    • track the atmospheric methane budget (source versus sink) or
    • observe atmospheric methane persistence over time or
    • compare the radiative forcing of atmospheric methane and carbon dioxide
    • when different amounts of methane are released into the atmosphere over varying time scales.

The layers of permafrost

  • Use the data points generated to draw graphs representing different scenarios of methane perturbations. Use these representations to discuss the implications of methane release in the atmosphere due to the large-scale thawing of permafrost.
Prof. David Archer, University of Chicago