Covered in netting to deflect stray balls, instruments gather methane data on the seventh hole of Midnight Sun Golf Course in Alaska. Permafrost is rapidly thawing across the far north, releasing the highly potent greenhouse gas, which leads to more warming. Photo by Frankie Cari.no

The Arctic's permafrost-obsessed methane detectives (Wired)

April 7, 2023

The Far North is thawing, unleashing clouds of planet-heating gas. Tyler Jones, Bruce Vaughn, and Kevin Rozmiarek use detectors on drones or carried by hand to measure methane release from permafrost in Alaska.

Infrastructure in London

London produces a third more methane than estimates suggest (Imperial College London)

Feb. 18, 2022

Researchers from Imperial College London have performed new measurements using data from INSTAAR's Stable Isotope Lab (Sylvia Englund Michel). They found London produces 30-35% more methane than previously thought. Previous estimates suggested 25% of London's methane is from natural gas leaks, but the new study says it's up to 85%.

While kneeling in the snow, Bruce Vaughn displays an ice core segment, northeast Greenland

Faces of the Front Range: Bruce Vaughn and Bradley Markle look to save the world by understanding it (Denver Post)

Oct. 11, 2021

Denver Post profile of a visit to the Stable Isotope Lab, where Bruce Vaughn and Brad Markle shared ice cores, knowledge, and what keeps them going while researching the climate past and present. To read this article, you may need to enter your email address.

Researcher works in a stable isotope lab that contains lots of blue and beige gas flasks

New analysis shows microbial sources fueling rise of atmospheric methane (NOAA Research News)

June 17, 2021

The sudden and sustained rise in atmospheric levels of the potent greenhouse gas methane since 2007 has posed one of the most significant and pressing questions in climate research: Where is it coming from? Now a research team has tested the leading theories for surging methane levels by analyzing the stable carbon isotope ratios (δ13C-CH4) from methane captured in a large set of global air samples to determine if one of the theories is more feasible than the others.

Cows in a muddy field

A mysterious rise in methane levels is sparking global warming fears (New Scientist)

May 21, 2021

In INSTAAR's Stable Isotope Lab lie rows of metal flasks holding clues to the cause of an alarming rise in a powerful greenhouse gas. They contain samples of air from around the world that Sylvia Michel‘s team of methane detectives analyse to reveal whether the gas came from burning fossil fuels and wood, or from wetlands and cow guts. Note that a subscription is required to read this article.

A bearded Bruce Vaughn in a very furry parka and sunglasses

Xmas Special 2020: Studying Climate Change at the North Pole with Bruce Vaughn (Nice to Know podcast)

Dec. 22, 2020

Climate change - we all know that it's happening, but how do we actually know this scientifically? Bruce Vaughn studies glaciers up at the North Pole, looking at ice cores to study how our climate has changed over the Earth's history. We talk about how this is done, and also how we are now entering uncharted territory of atmospheric CO2, warming, and what we as a species can do about it.

A satellite view of the Yukon River watershed in Alaska

Arctic communities planning for abrupt permafrost thaw

Oct. 21, 2020

A new INSTAAR-led project will engage Indigenous and Western knowledge systems to better understand abrupt permafrost change in Alaska. The National Science Foundation selected the project as part of its Navigating the New Arctic funding area, one of ten “Big Ideas” that NSF is investing in as an area of profound national challenge and opportunity. The research project brings Alaskan communities together with social and natural scientists to examine changes in permafrost thaw lake environments, including associated effects on villages in the Yukon River watershed.