Methane is trapped in the soil in areas that have been frozen as permafrost. In periods where the Earth’s temperature was substantially warmer than it is now and the Artic was not covered in a layer of ice, plants flourished. As the temperature dropped, the plants died and the areas became peat bogs, which is basically a partially-decomposed natural compost heap. The formation of peat is a source of methane gas, but the decaying plants and the gas were trapped when ice began to form and the area became permafrost. Now that the permafrost is melting, all that trapped gas is being released into the atmosphere.
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