The Effect of Rising Global Temperatures on Methanogenic Archaea in the Arctic Permafrost
by Yuki Agarwala
Abstract – Greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere are rising primarily due to anthropogenic reasons. However, research has shown that there is another unseen contributor, hidden in the permafrost – methanogens. These archaea produce methane from a variety of carbon compounds via methanogenesis. Since methane is more potent than carbon dioxide, it is crucial to determine the archaeal production of methane at increasing temperatures to assess the severity of the situation. In this investigation, Methanococcus maripaludis was inoculated at various temperatures and their growth, as well as the volume of carbon dioxide and methane, was measured using spectrophotometry and gas chromatography. The results show increased growth and methanogenesis between 10 ° and 15 ° . This has significant implications on the severity of global warming because once the permafrost reaches this temperature, the methane contributions of the methanogens might accelerate the phenomenon unexpectedly, beyond control. However, archaeal growth could slow due to many factors including the lack of substrates and further investigation is necessary for the application of the findings in the real-world context.