An international team of researchers on board a Russian research vessel has found evidence that frozen methane deposits in the Arctic Ocean have spread over a large area of Siberia, potentially triggering a dangerous new climate feedback loop.
The guard According to reports from the International Siberian Shelf Study (ISSS-2020), slope sediments that span much of the continental shelf are rich in frozen methane hydrates, which have been detected to a depth of 1,150 feet in the Laptev Sea.
Although scientists said most methane hydrate bubbles dissolve in water, methane levels at the ocean surface are four to eight times higher than normal and the gas is escaping into the atmosphere. What makes methane particularly dangerous is that its heating effect over 20 years is 80 times stronger than that of CO2. The new discovery has raised serious concerns that a new climate feedback loop may begin.
One of the biggest uncertainties related to global warming [concerns] The emission of naturally occurring greenhouse gases such as methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide (N2O) from the thawing permafrost in the Arctic and the collapse of methane hydrates – crystals made of methane gas molecules that are “locked” between solid water molecules – in the sea floor north of Siberia will increase in the future .
“At the moment it is unlikely that global warming will be significantly affected, but the point is that this process has now started,” said Stockholm University researcher Örjan Gustafsson The guard. “This East Siberian hillside methane hydrate system has been disrupted and the process will continue.”
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Gustafsson, a member of the research team, warned last month that “global warming is waking up the ‘sleeping giants’ of the carbon cycle, namely permafrost and methane hydrates”.
“How much this will lead to additional emissions of the strong greenhouse gas methane is little known,” he said. “This is one of the great challenges in current climate change research and a central goal of the expedition.”
The chief scientist on board the ship, Igor Semiletov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, described the hydrate discharges as “significantly larger” than anything seen before.
“The discovery of the active release of shelf-tilting hydrates is very important and unknown to date,” said Semiletov The guard. “This is a new page. They can potentially have serious climate impacts, but we need more studies before we can confirm this. ”
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