An Endless Vicious Circle: Discover A Powerful Jet Of Methane In The Arctic

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An international expedition of scientists studying the consequences of the melting of the Arctic permafrost managed to detect the most powerful methane emission in the history of the expeditions. The powerful leak was detected in the East Siberian Sea.

At first, the researchers discovered a spot of emerald hues with the help of acoustic devices. After approaching it, the members of the expedition observed that thousands of gas bubbles rose from the depths of the sea. The powerful emission of methane occupies an area between 4 and 5 square kilometers.

“Discovering in the ocean waves a place with a rupture caused by a gas leakage is more difficult than finding a needle in a haystack,” said Sergey Nikíforov, a scientist and journalist at the Polytechnic University of Tomsk. 

Methane is one of the most dangerous greenhouse gases. The most abundant reserves are in the permafrost, which occupies 60% of the territory of Russia.

“It is the most potent [methane] expulsion of all that I have had occasion to observe. It appears when there is a concentration in the air of up to 16 parts per million. That is 9 times higher than the average indicators of the planet. No one had achieved observe nothing similar so far, “said the head of the expedition, Igor Semiletov. Do we have reason to worry?

As the permafrost melts, the methane contained in it is released and penetrates into the atmosphere, which in turn accelerates warming in northern latitudes and the permafrost melts. Thus arises an endless vicious circle.

In the short term, the release of methane can have more serious consequences than the emission of carbon dioxide, according to another study that was published in early 2019. Once in the water, methane can pose a danger to marine inhabitants, ships and oil platforms.

In this regard, Semiletov recalled the accident that occurred in 2010 in Deepwater Horizon, located in the Gulf of Mexico. Although this platform exploded due to human error, the catastrophe occurred after the gas penetrated the ventilation system and expanded through the installation.

The rate at which permafrost melts has almost doubled in recent years to reach 18 centimeters of ice per year. Methane emissions from the sea floor are one of the consequences of this change, say the scientists.

An Endless Vicious Circle: Discover A Powerful Jet Of Methane In The Arctic

During a press conference held in September 2019, Igor Semiletov recalled the case of the Yamal crater, a giant hole that is 50 meters deep and almost 20 meters in diameter and that appeared on the peninsula between 2013 and 2014. Initially it was believed that the crater had formed because of the impact of a meteorite or because it had carried out military tests. Later, the scientists concluded that the hole arose from a potent emission of methane.


Source: Mundo Sputnik News