Siberian sea is boiling with methane

As the Arctic warms, some of its lakes are bubbling. Earth’s warming climate is thawing permafrost –the Arctic’s permanently frozen layer of soil. As the permafrost thaws, microbes in the soil wake up and begin consuming once frozen organic material. This activity throws carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.

Scientists have known about this source of atmospheric carbon –a greenhouse gas- for some time. They have predictions about how long it will take for the carbon stored in the permafrost to reach the atmosphere. Newly forming lakes in the region can throw a wrench in these predictions called ‘thermokarst lakes.’ They form where thawed permafrost causes the ground to slump. The lake water speeds up the thaw of surrounding permafrost, freeing methane, which bubbles up through the lakes and enters the atmosphere much sooner than previously expected.

Researchers on a ques to the East Siberian Sea, found out that the methane fountain was something they never had come across as, with concentrations of the gas in the region to more than 6% higher than the global average. The team traveled to an area of the Eastern Arctic previously known to produce methane fountains. They were studying the environmental consequences if permafrost is thawing beneath the ocean that is permanently frozen in some places for many hundreds of years or even more.

According to the research made by the National Snow and Ice data, permafrost currently covers about million of 2.253e+7 square meters of the Northern Hemisphere, locked within the permafrost is biotic matter. As takes process of thawing takes place in the ground, the matter starts to break down, and as it does, it releases methane –a greenhouse gas, far more potent than carbon dioxide. With the global temperature increase, scientists are concerned, the warming will result in more permafrost thawing, causing more methane to be released. This will lead to even more warming. This process is known as ‘a positive feedback loop.’ A huge proportion of the Siberian Sea is covered in permafrost. But this is starting to change. In recent years, scientists working in remote regions have been documenting changes in the landscapes. They are considered to be related to thawing.

This whole process of meltdown is increasing the risks of warming to its maximum. Scientists worry that in coming years, the permafrost will swipe off huge portion of land across Russia and its neighboring places. This is not a common problem that can be dealt with normal methods. In fact the earth, itself is helpless against the drastic changes that are taking place around the world. The damage is now so deeply rooted that it is impossible to put a stop on the damage that is taking place right in front of our eyes. The rate of emission of greenhouse gasses must be brought to minimal, as the earth cannot afford more destruction. The industrial revolution is bringing the earth down to lowest capacity of sustaining the loss.

Picture credit: iStock

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