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Camping on 12,000-year-old Taylor Glacier

In 2011, a team of researchers spent seven weeks in Antarctica collecting and studying 2,000-pound samples of glacial ice cores that date back nearly 12,000 years. The ancient air trapped within the ice revealed surprising new data about methane that may help inform today’s policymakers as they consider ways to reduce global warming. First, the risk that warming will trigger methane release from large natural reservoirs of ancient carbon seems to be low. Second, humans are probably contributing more methane to the atmosphere through fossil fuel use and extraction than scientists previously believed. Reducing methane emissions from fossil fuels may therefore be an even more important factor in reducing global warming.

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