Siberia (Global Adventures): Huge quantities of Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, are bubbling from the seabed north of Siberia. Scientist from Russia, the U.S. and Sweden suspect that the permafrost, a thick layer of soil that remains frozen all year, is “destabilizing.”
“The amount of methane currently coming out of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is comparable to the amount coming out of the entire world’s oceans,” says Dr. Natalia Shakhova, a researcher at the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska. “Subsea permafrost is losing its ability to be an impermeable cap. If it further destabilizes, the methane emissions may …. be significantly larger.”
Methane is the simplest alkane, and the principal component of natural gas, about 87% by volume. When released into the atmosphere, the gas is eventually oxidized, producing carbon dioxide and water. As a result, released methane has a half life of about seven years.
There has long been concern the release of methane locked in the permafrost could trigger catastrophic and abrupt climate change. However, it isn’t all certain what implications the new discovery has. “The climatic consequences of this are hard to predict. this type of source has never been predicted by anyone and has not been included in climate models. We’re going to keep studying this region and investigating why this is happening,” said Shakhova.
Scientists aboard a Russian icebreaker discovered the leak in the permafrost that covers the Siberian continental shelf, which extends up to 621 miles (1,000 kilometers) into the Arctic Ocean.
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